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J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2011 Jun;36(2):137-43. doi: 10.1080/13668250.2011.572548.

Comorbidity of intellectual disability and mental disorder in children and adolescents: a systematic review.

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Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.



Mental disorder and intellectual disability each accounts for substantial burden of disease. However, the extent of this co-occurrence varies substantially between reports. We sought to determine whether studies in children and/or adolescents with acceptably rigorous methods can be distinguished from existing reports, and whether key risk factors could be ascertained.


Published studies investigating the prevalence of mental disorders in children and/or adolescents with intellectual disability were reviewed.


Nine studies with acceptable methods were identified, 4 which compared the prevalence of mental disorder in populations of those with and without intellectual disability, and a further 5 studies that estimated the rates of mental disorder in those with intellectual disability were identified. Collectively, these studies demonstrate rates of comorbidity for children and adolescents between 30 and 50% with a relative risk of mental disorder associated with intellectual disability ranging from 2.8-4.5. The risks for this comorbidity associated with age, gender, severity of intellectual disability, and socioeconomic status remain uncertain.


Appreciation of this comorbidity needs to be a fundamental component of both mental health and intellectual disability services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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