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Health Care Factors Associated with Developmental Disorders in Early Childhood

Sociodemographic, health care, family, and community attributes have been associated with increased risk for mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders (MBDDs) in children (1,2). For example, poverty has been shown to have adverse effects on cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development (1). A safe place to play is needed for gross motor development, and accessible health care is needed for preventive and illness health care (3). Positive parenting and quality preschool interventions have been shown to be associated with prosocial skills, better educational outcomes, and fewer health risk behaviors over time (2). Protective factors for MBDDs are often shared (4) and conditions often co-occur; therefore, CDC considered MBDDs together to facilitate the identification of factors that could inform collaborative, multidisciplinary prevention strategies. To identify specific factors associated with MBDDs among U.S. children aged 2–8 years, parent-reported data from the most recent (2011–2012) National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) were analyzed. Factors associated with having any MBDD included inadequate insurance, lacking a medical home, fair or poor parental mental health, difficulties getting by on the family’s income, employment difficulties because of child care issues, living in a neighborhood lacking support, living in a neighborhood lacking amenities (e.g., sidewalks, park, recreation center, and library), and living in a neighborhood in poor condition. In a multivariate analysis, fair or poor parental mental health and lacking a medical home were significantly associated with having an MBDD. There was significant variation in the prevalence of these and the other factors by state, suggesting that programs and policies might use collaborative efforts to focus on specific factors. Addressing identified factors might prevent the onset of MBDDs and improve outcomes among children who have one or more of these disorders.

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Bitsko RH, Holbrook JR, Robinson LR, et al. Health Care, Family, and Community Factors Associated with Mental, Behavioral, and Developmental Disorders in Early Childhood — United States, 2011–2012External. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016; 65:221–226.