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    CDC: Be vigilant in screening for psychological risk factors

    One in 7 school-aged children suffer from mental, behavioral, or developmental problems, according to a new federal report, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging pediatricians to take note of the risk factors of these issues in order to offer early interventions.

    Georgina Peacock, MD, MPH, FAAP, director of CDC’s Division of Human Development and Disability, says pediatricians play a key role in collaborating with public health officials and other agencies serving the health needs of children who have or are at-risk for mental health disorders.

    “By becoming more aware of the factors identified in this report, pediatricians will be better equipped to identify potential risk factors for mental, behavioral and developmental disorders (MBDDs) in early childhood, and factors that may impact the health of children with these disorders,” says Peacock. “The factors most strongly associated with these disorders were fair or poor parental mental health, lacking a medical home, difficulty getting by on the family’s income, and child care problems.”

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    In its new report, CDC outlines the risk factors associated with childhood MBDDs based on parent-reported data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. Some of the top risk factors include inadequate health insurance, lacking a medical home, parental mental health problems, low income, parental employment problems due to lack of childcare, and a lack of community support resources and amenities.

    Overall, CDC found that 15.4% of US children aged 2 to 8 years had at least 1 diagnosed MBDD, and the highest contributing sociodemographic factors included male gender, older age ranges of 4 to 8 years, non-Hispanic white ethnicity, and living in households with high poverty levels.

    Prevalence of MBDD varied by state from 10.6% in California to 21.5% in Arkansas and Kentucky, according to CDC. In comparing risk factors by state, 26.5% of parents reported inadequate medical insurance as a top problem in South Carolina; 52.2% of parents in Arizona listed lacking a medical home as a top concern. Income and childcare problems were cited most in Arizona. Comparatively, Vermont parents reported the fewest problems with insurance and medical home access; parents in North Dakota reported the fewest income problems; and parents in Nevada had the last amount of problems related to childcare. Parental mental health issues affecting childhood MBDD were greatest in Washington DC and lowest in Kansas, according to CDC, and Washington DC, Maryland, and Mississippi parents reported the worst community conditions and amenities.

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    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare ...

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