CDC: Nearly 1 in 5 Kids Suffer from Mental Disorder

As many as 20% of U.S. children have a mental disorder, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The cost of mental disorders totals pproximately $247 billion every year.

The agency studied children ranging in age from 3 to 17. Mental disorders among children are described as “serious deviations from expected cognitive, social, and emotional development.”

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (6.8%) was the most prevalent parent-reported current diagnosis among children, followed by behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%), anxiety (3.0%), depression (2.1%), autism spectrum disorders (1.1%), and Tourette syndrome (0.2% among children aged 6–17 years). An estimated 4.7% of adolescents aged 12–17 years reported an illicit drug use disorder in the past year, 4.2% had an alcohol abuse disorder in the past year, and 2.8% had cigarette dependence in the past month. The overall suicide rate for persons aged 10–19 years was 4.5 suicides per 100,000 persons in 2010. Approximately 8% of adolescents aged 12–17 years reported at least 14 mentally unhealthy days in the past month.

Mental disorders among children are an important public health issue because of their prevalence, early onset, and impact on the child, family, and community. A total of 13% to 20% of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year. Suicide, which can result from the interaction of mental disorders and other factors, was the second leading cause of death among children aged 12–17 years in 2010. In the United States, the cost (including health care, use of services such as special education and juvenile justice, and decreased productivity) of mental disorders among persons under the age of 24 years was estimated at $247 billion annually. In 2006, mental disorders were among the most costly conditions to treat in children.

Read the report.

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