Prevalence of Four Developmental Disabilities Among Children Aged 8 Years—Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program, 1996 and 2000


    In the United States, developmental disabilities affect approximately 17% of children aged <18 years, resulting in substantial financial and social costs.
    1996 and 2000.
    The Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP) monitors the occurrence of mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, vision impairment, and autism spectrum disorders among children aged 8 years in the five-county metropolitan Atlanta area (Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett). MADDSP uses a multiple source ascertainment methodology.
    During 1996, the prevalence of mental retardation was 15.5 per 1,000 children aged 8 years; it decreased to 12.0 per 1,000 in 2000. The overall prevalence of cerebral palsy was 3.6 per 1,000 in 1996 and 3.1 per 1,000 in 2000. The prevalence of mental retardation and cerebral palsy was highest among males and black children. The prevalence of hearing loss was 1.4 per 1,000 in 1996 and 1.2 per 1,000 in 2000; the prevalence of vision impairment during 1996 was 1.4 per 1,000 and 1.2 per 1,000 in 2000. Minimal differences by study year were observed in the prevalence of all four disabilities when examined by sex, race, and severity.
    The prevalence of these four select developmental disabilities in MADDSP was higher in 1996 than the annual average prevalence estimates for these disabilities during previous MADDSP study years (1991-1994) study years; the highest increase was observed among children with mental retardation. However, prevalence estimates during 2000 were more consistent with the estimates from the early 1990s. Data from additional surveillance years (2002 and beyond) are needed to determine if the prevalence for 1996 was an anomaly and to continue to monitor trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities over time.
    MADDSP data will continue to be used to examine trends in the occurrence of these disabilities over time, facilitate the development and implementation of appropriate intervention programs, and provide a framework for conducting population-based etiologic studies.