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Report highlights mental health issues in children


A total of 13% to 20% of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year, according to a CDC report, with surveillance showing the prevalence of these conditions have increased between 1994 and 2011.

Suicide, which can result from the interaction of mental disorders and other factors, was the second leading cause of death among children ages 12 to 17, according to the report, which appears as a special supplement to the May 17 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The overall suicide rate for people ages 10 to 19 was 4.5 suicides per 100,000 people in 2010. Approximately 8% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 reported experiencing 14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month.

“Surveillance efforts are critical for documenting the impact of mental disorders and for informing policy, prevention and resource allocation,” the authors wrote.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (6.8%) was the most prevalent parent-reported current diagnosis among children ages 3 to 17, followed by behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%), anxiety (3%), depression (2.1%), autism spectrum disorders (1.1%) and Tourette syndrome (0.2% among children ages 6 to 17).

An estimated 4.7% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 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.

Non-Hispanic children generally had the highest prevalence of ADHD, depression and substance use disorders, the authors wrote. “ADHD was lowest among Hispanic children, behavioral or conduct problems were highest among black non-Hispanic children and ASD tended to be higher among white non-Hispanic children.

“Anxiety was more common among white non-Hispanic children than black non-Hispanic children. Black non-Hispanic children and non-Hispanic children of other races had a lower prevalence of alcohol use disorder. Tourette syndrome was more common among white non-Hispanic children than black non-Hispanic children or Hispanic children.

“The prevalence of ADHD, ASD, and anxiety were higher among children with health insurance, whereas those without health insurance were more likely to report substance use disorders. As household education decreased, the prevalence of parent-reported behavioral or conduct problems, depression and anxiety increased. As poverty levels increased, the prevalence of parent-reported ADHD, behavioral or conduct problems, depression and anxiety increased, as did illicit drug use disorders and cigarette dependence.

“Regional differences generally were not consistent except that both alcohol and illicit drug use disorders were higher in the West and lower in the South, as opposed to ADHD, which was higher in the South and lower in the West.”

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