Developmental Disabilities: Recent Statistics

Developmental disabilities include a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. People with developmental disabilities have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning self-help, and independent living. Developmental disabilities begin any time during development up to 22 years of age, and they usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study of almost 120,000 children  to determine the prevalence of developmental disabilities in U.S. children and to document any significant changes. The study showed that developmental disabilities are common in the US (about 1 in 6 children) and that the number of such children increased 17.1% (about 1.8 million more children) over the 12 years studied. Other significant findings include:

  • Prevalence of autism increased 289.5%
  • Prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased 33.0%
  • Prevalence of hearing loss decreased 30.9%
  • Males had twice the prevalence of any developmental disability than females
  • Males had higher prevalence of ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, stuttering/stammering and other developmental disabilities.
  • Children from families with income below the federal poverty level had a higher prevalence of developmental disabilities.

Identifying developmental disabilities early allows children and their families to get the help they need. You can follow your child’s development by watching how he or she plays, learns, speaks, and acts. Talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next. And be sure to share any concerns you have about your child's progress.


  • Last updated: 06/24/2013
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