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Natl Health Stat Report. 2009 Nov 4;(19):1-23.

Functional difficulties among school-aged children: United States, 2001-2007.

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  • 1Office of Analysis and Epidemiology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA.



This report presents estimates of basic actions difficulty, which includes difficulties related to sensory, motor, cognitive, and emotional or behavioral functioning, in U.S. children aged 5-17 years based on questions from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Selected estimates are shown for the educational and health care service use of children with and without basic actions difficulty.


Estimates of basic actions difficulty were derived from the Family Core and the Sample Child Core questionnaires of the 2001-2007 NHIS. Estimates were generated and compared using SUDAAN, a statistical package that adjusts for the complex sample design of NHIS.


Approximately 18% of children aged 5-17 had basic actions difficulty in one or more of the following domains of functioning: sensory, movement, cognitive, or emotional or behavioral. The percentage of children with difficulty in specific domains varied: 3% had sensory difficulty, 2% movement difficulty, 9% cognitive difficulty, and 10% emotional or behavioral difficulty. From 2001 through 2007, the percentage of children aged 5-17 with basic actions difficulty remained stable at about 18%. Children with and without basic actions difficulty differed greatly in their use of both educational and health care services. One-third of children with basic actions difficulty used special education services compared with 2% of children without basic actions difficulty. A substantially higher percentage of children with basic actions difficulty used health care services, including mental health care, other types of therapy, and prescription medication, than children without basic actions difficulty.

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