In a recently released report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shed light on the growing prevalence of developmental disabilities diagnosed among children in the United States. According to the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey, conducted between 2019 and 2021, the prevalence of any diagnosed developmental disability in children aged 3 to 17 years has risen from 7.40% in 2019 to 8.56% in 2021.
The report highlights that boys are more likely to receive a developmental disability diagnosis than girls, with over 1 in 10 boys having been diagnosed with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, or any other developmental delay in 2021. The increase in diagnoses primarily falls within the category of “any other developmental delay,” which encompasses conditions such as speech disorders and learning disabilities.
Notably, the study finds that rates of intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder diagnosis did not experience a statistically significant increase from 2019 to 2021. Approximately 2% of children were identified as having an intellectual disability, while 3% received an autism diagnosis. However, the prevalence of children with “other developmental delays” rose from around 5% in 2019 to about 6% in 2021.
Other key findings from the CDC report include:
Asian children exhibited a lower prevalence of developmental disabilities compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Black children (2.82%) were more likely to be diagnosed with an intellectual disability than Hispanic (1.77%), White (1.76%), and Asian (0.72%) children.
Prevalence of intellectual disability increased with age, whereas the prevalence of “other developmental delay” decreased with age.
Girls had a significantly lower prevalence of developmental disabilities, with rates just over 5%, as opposed to nearly 11% for boys.