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Learning Disabilities in U.S. Youth Remained Steady From 1997 to 2021

Estimated prevalence of learning disabilities over time was 8.83 percent

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 12, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The prevalence of learning disabilities among youth aged 6 to 17 years remained steady from 1997 to 2021, according to a research letter published online July 10 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Yanmei Li, from Guangdong Pharmaceutical University in Guangzhou, China, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of learning disabilities and its long-term trend among 188,449 U.S. children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years using data from the National Health Interview Survey (1997 to 2021).

The researchers found that 8.76 percent of children had a diagnosis of a learning disability from 1997 to 2021. There was a significant difference observed in prevalence by age (12 to 17 years, 9.78 percent; 6 to 11 years, 7.86 percent), sex (female, 6.56 percent; male, 11.00 percent), race and ethnicity (Hispanic, 7.82 percent; non-Hispanic Black, 10.03 percent; non-Hispanic White, 9.25 percent; other, 6.23 percent), family income-to-poverty ratio (<1.00, 13.46 percent; 1.00 to 1.99, 10.39 percent; 2.00 to 3.99, 8.17 percent; ≥4.00, 6.59 percent), and highest educational level of family members (less than high school, 11.62 percent; high school, 10.05 percent; college or higher, 8.04 percent). There was no significant mean annual change in prevalence from 1997-1998 (8.98 percent) to 2021 (8.31 percent), except for Hispanic youth (7.24 percent in 1997-1998 to 8.24 percent in 2021).

“Given that learning disability is a lifelong condition and its prevalence remains high, further investigation is warranted to assess potentially modifiable risk factors and causes of learning disability,” the authors write.

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