One-fifth of rural children have a developmental disability, CDC data shows

Nearly 20 percent of children living in rural areas have been diagnosed with a developmental disability, according to CDC data.

The CDC's Feb. 19 National Center for Health Statistics focuses on the prevalence of developmental disabilities among children in both rural and urban areas. Researchers gathered data from the 2015-2018 National Health Interview Survey. They examined data for 33,775 children, ages 3 to 17 years.

Researchers studied the prevalence of 10 developmental disability diagnoses reported by parents of guardians of the children, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; autism spectrum disorder; blindness; cerebral palsy; seizures; moderate-to-profound hearing loss; and stuttering or stammering.

The study shows children living in rural areas were more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental disability (19.8 percent) than children living in urban areas (17.4 percent).

In particular, children living in rural areas were more likely than those in urban areas to be diagnosed with ADHD (11.4 percent versus 9.2 percent) and cerebral palsy (0.5 percent versus 0.2 percent).

Researchers also found that children diagnosed with a developmental disability living in rural areas were significantly less likely to have seen a mental health professional, therapist or to have had a wellness checkup in the last year, compared to children with developmental disability living in urban areas.

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