The prevalence of children with a developmental disability rose by 21% from 2014 to 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2016, the prevalence of any diagnosed developmental disability in children aged 3-17 years was 6.99% – a statistically significant increase of 21% over the 5.76% recorded in 2014, the NCHS said in a recent Data Brief.

Autism spectrum disorder was up by a similar amount: 23% from 2014, when prevalence was 2.24%, to 2016, when the prevalence was 2.76% among children aged 3-17 years. Intellectual disability rose in 2015 but dropped in 2016, so the overall increase in prevalence was just 3.6%. The prevalence of other developmental delays, on the other hand, held steady from 2014 to 2015 and then took a big jump, 27.5%, in 2016, the NCHS investigators reported.

Combined data from the whole 3-year period show that autism spectrum disorder is almost three times as prevalent in boys (3.63%) as in girls (1.25%), with prevalence among boys also significantly higher for intellectual disability (1.48% vs. 0.9%), other developmental delays (4.77% vs. 2.98%), and any developmental disabilities (8.15% vs. 4.29%), data from the National Health Interview Survey show.

The estimates are based on reports by parents or guardians of ever receiving a diagnosis of each developmental disability from a physician or other medical professional.


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