One in six U.S. children now has a developmental disability such as autism, learning disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That number appears to be on the rise. In 1997-1999, about 12.8 percent of kids were diagnosed with a developmental disability. That number rose to 15 percent in 2006-2008 -- or an additional 1.8 million U.S. children.
Much of the bump up in cases seems driven by rising rates of autism and ADHD, experts say.
"The most important message here is raising awareness of the importance of this as a health problem and one we need to address," said lead study author Coleen Boyle, director of the U.S. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "Children are our future, and many of these children can grow up to be very productive citizens, so we need to invest in programs to help facilitate their development."