Up to 1 in 5 children have mental health issues: CDC

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Up to 20% of children in the United States have a mental disorder, and the number of children diagnosed with a mental disorder has been rising for more than a decade, according to a report on Thursday by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the agency’s first-ever study of mental disorders in children aged 3 to 17, researchers found that childhood mental illnesses affect up to one in five children and cost $247 billion a year in fees medical, special education and juvenile justice.

Children with mental disorders – defined as “serious deviations from expected cognitive, social and emotional development” – often struggle to learn in school, make friends and form relationships later in life. life, according to the report.

They are more likely to have other chronic health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, and are at risk of developing mental illnesses as adults.

“This is a deliberate effort by the CDC to show that mental health is a health issue. As with any health issue, the more attention we pay to it, the better. Parents take the lead. aware of the facts and talk to a medical professional about how their child learns, behaves and plays with other children,” Dr Ruth Peru, the study’s lead author, told Reuters.

“What is worrying is the number of families affected by these problems. But we can do something about it. Mental health issues are diagnosable, treatable, and people can recover and lead healthy lives,” Perou added.

The study cites data collected between 1994 and 2011 that show the number of children with mental disorders is increasing. The study stopped short of concluding why, but suggested improvements in diagnoses as a possible explanation

“Changes in estimated prevalence over time could be associated with actual change in prevalence, changes in case definition, changes in public perception of mental disorders, or improvements in diagnosis, which could be associated with changes in policies and access to health care,” the study said.

Peru told Reuters that more research was needed to determine the specific causes of mental disorders and that greater awareness could lead to increased diagnoses. A host of environmental factors, including chemical exposure and poverty, can also affect a child’s mental health, she said.

Lead, for example, is known to be “one of the biggest toxins impacting behavior and learning,” Peru said. According to the study, poor children are at a higher risk of developing certain conditions.

The most common mental health diagnosis, as reported by parents, was attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which affects 6.8% of children. Behavioral problems (3.5%), anxiety, which consists mainly of fears and phobias (3%), depression (2.1%) and autism spectrum disorders (1.1%) were also common . Many of these disorders occur together, according to the report.

Boys were more likely to have most of the disorders listed, with the exception of depression and alcohol abuse, which affect more girls.

The study also noted that suicide, which can be precipitated by untreated mental illness, was the second leading cause of death (after accidents) among children aged 12 to 17.

The CDC report was based on several other studies that collected data and asked children and their caregivers about their diagnoses, habits, behaviors and other factors.

Reporting by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bob Burgdorfer

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