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CDC: Millions Of American Kids Have Mental Disorders


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In a first-of-its-kind report, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that as many as 1 in 5 American children has a mental disorder including autism.

The report released Thursday focuses on kids ages 3 to 17 between the years 2005 and 2011. It is said to be the most comprehensive federal look at children’s mental health issues to date.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, was the most common diagnosis, with nearly 7 percent of kids affected. Meanwhile, behavioral or conduct problems touched 3.5 percent of children while 3 percent had anxiety and roughly 2 percent were diagnosed with depression, the CDC found.

The report is largely based on data collected through other surveys. Accordingly, it puts autism prevalence at 1.1 percent, though a more recent government survey released earlier this year suggests that number may in fact be 2 percent.

Overall, the CDC indicated that somewhere between 13 and 20 percent of U.S. children experience a mental disorder each year, with an estimated annual price tag of $247 billion.

“Millions of children in the U.S. have mental disorders that affect their overall health and present challenges for their loved ones,” said Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, in a statement. “We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders, and help scale up programs and strategies to promote children’s mental health so that our children grow to lead productive, healthy lives.”

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. Lynette Villegas says:

    I’d like to thank the author of this article for bringing such intense confirmation about something I insisted was happening in my classroom. As it turns out, I taught in a high poverty school with children born during 2005-2011. Of the 18 children in a first grade classroom, 4 were clinically diagnosed with ADHD and 4 others were not yet diagnosed, but had the same symptoms. When one does the math, there is at least 50% of the class with some form of mental disorder. Clearly, there is a crisis.

  2. David E. Nilsson Ph.D. says:

    The rejection of DSM-5 in order to move in a direction of a “more neurobehavioral approach” will render “mental health” obsolete, as a majority of these children have experienced some known or unrecognized neurological injury, presenting with genetic disorders, prenatal-perinatal neurological injury secondary to pregnancy complications, or complications of delivery (e.g., hypoxia, vascular complications, physical injury secondary to delivery). This will be more prominently and widely discussed with the progression of time and implementation of programs. DN

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