Mental disorders affect 1 in 6 US kids

May 21, 2013

About 17% of children and teenagers in the United States suffer from a mental disorder, according to a first-of-its-kind federal report.

 

About 17% of children and teenagers in the United States suffer from a mental disorder, according to a first-of-its-kind federal report.

The report, “Mental Health Surveillance Among Children-United States, 2005-2011,” is a compendium of government survey data assembled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It reveals a higher-than-expected and increasing prevalence of mental health issues among young people.

Prevalences of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral and conduct disorders, autism spectrum disorders, depression, and anxiety in 3- to 17-year-olds totaled 16.5%. Some children with mental disorders-likely up to 40%-have more than 1 disorder, leading to overlap and potential inflation of prevalence rates.

The most prevalent parent-reported current diagnoses among children aged 3 to 17 years were ADHD (6.8%), behavioral/conduct problems (3.5%), anxiety (3.0%), depression (2.1%), autism spectrum disorders (1.1%), and Tourette syndrome (0.2% among children aged 6 to 17 years). In the past year, 4.7% of 12- to 17-year-olds reported illicit drug use disorders and 4.2% reported alcohol abuse disorders. Almost 3% reported cigarette dependence in the past month. The overall suicide rate for 10- to 19- year-olds was 4.5 per 100,000 in 2010.

The report notes that boys are more likely than girls to have ADHD, behavioral/conduct problems, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, and cigarette dependence. Girls are more likely than boys to suffer from depression or to abuse alcohol.

In addition, children with mental disorders are more likely than children without to have other chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy. Also, mental disorders in children are associated with an increased risk for mental disorders in adulthood, which are associated with decreased productivity, increased substance use and injury, and substantial costs to the individual and society.

The annual price tag for the public health issue totals $247 billion, according to the CDC.