Learning Disabilities in US Youth Remained Steady From 1997 to 2021

The estimated prevalence of learning disabilities over time was 8.83%.

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 US children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years using data from the National Health Interview Survey (1997 to 2021).

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