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Res Dev Disabil. 2008 May-Jun;29(3):247-55. Epub 2007 Jun 19.

Increased risk of injury in children with developmental disabilities.

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Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The objective of this study was to examine injury risk in children with autism, ADD/ADHD, learning disability, psychopathology, or other medical conditions. Children aged 3-5 years who participated in the National Survey of Children's Health were included. Six study groups were analyzed in this report: autism (n=82), ADD/ADHD (n=191), learning disability (n=307), psychopathology (n=210), other medical conditions (n=1802), and unaffected controls (n=13,398). The weighted prevalence of injury in each group was 24.2% (autism), 26.5% (ADD/ADHD), 9.3% (learning disability), 20.5% (psychopathology), 14.6% (other medical conditions), and 11.9% (unaffected controls). Compared to unaffected controls, the risk of injury was 2.15 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.00-4.60), 2.74 (95% CI: 1.63-4.59), 2.06 (95% CI: 1.24-3.42), and 1.26 (95% CI: 1.00-1.58) in children with autism, ADD/ADHD, psychopathology, and other medical conditions, respectively, after adjusting for child sex, child age, number of children in the household, child race, and family poverty level. Children with autism, ADD/ADHD, and other psychopathology were about 2-3 times more likely to experience an injury that needs medical attention than unaffected controls. Future studies need to clarify the extent to which injuries in young children with autism, ADD/ADHD, and psychopathology are related to core symptoms, comorbid conditions, associated behaviors, or unintentional injuries due to lack of additional supervision from caregivers.

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