One in ten children suffers mental disorder, study claims

One in ten children has a clinically recognisable mental disorder, a new survey has claimed.

The survey of children, aged between 5 and 16 in private households in England, Scotland and Wales, was carried out by the Office of National Statistics, between March and June 2004.

The survey found that 4% of children had an emotional disorder, such as anxiety and depression, while 6% suffered from a conduct disorder, characterised by aggressive, disruptive or antisocial behaviour. Two in ten children were found to suffer from a hyperkinetic disorder, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, while 1% had a less common disorder, such as autism, tics, eating disorders and selective mutism. The ONS said that one in five of affected children had more than one type of disorder.

Boys were found to be more likely than girls to suffer from a mental disorder. The ONS found that 10% of boys aged between 5 and 10 had a disorder, compared to 5% of girls in the same age group. Thirteen per cent of 11 to 16-year-old boys were also found to have some form of mental disorder, compared to 10% of girls in the same age group.

Boys were also found to be more likely to suffer from autism – 82% of those children with the condition were boys.

The ONS found that the prevalence of mental disorders also varied by some characteristics. Children in lone parent families and families where neither parents worked were found to be more likely to suffer from mental disorders than children with two parents who both worked.

In addition, 17% of children whose interviewed parent had no educational qualifications had a mental disorder compared with 4% of children where the interviewed parent had a degree level qualification.

However, the ONS found that autistic children tended to have more highly qualified parents than other children (46% with qualification above GCSE level, compared to 35% of other children) and were also less likely to live in low-income families (9% with a gross weekly income of less than £200, compared to 20% of other children).


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