Deprivation, ethnicity and the prevalence of intellectual and developmental disabilities

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Abstract

Background

Social gradients and ethnic disparities have been reported in some forms of intellectual and developmental disabilities. However, information on the association between area deprivation, ethnicity and other forms of intellectual and developmental disabilities are inconclusive.

Aim

To estimate the independent association between household disadvantage, local area deprivation, ethnicity and the identification of intellectual and developmental disability.

Methods

Cross-sectional survey involving multilevel multivariate analyses of data extracted from educational records on household disadvantage, local area deprivation, ethnicity and identified intellectual and developmental disability in a sample of English children aged 7–15 years (n=5.18 million).

Results

Lower household socio-economic position was associated with increased rates of identification of intellectual and developmental disabilities especially less severe forms of intellectual disability. Higher area deprivation was independently associated with increased rates of identification of less severe forms of intellectual disability but decreased rates of identification of profound multiple intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. Minority ethnic status was, in general, associated with lower rates of identification of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Exceptions to this general pattern included higher rates of identification of less severe forms of intellectual disability among Gypsy/Romany and Traveller children of Irish heritage, and higher rates of identification of more severe forms of intellectual disability among children of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage.

Conclusions

Children whose development is already compromised (and especially children with less severe intellectual disabilities) are at increased risk of exposure to social conditions that are themselves inimical to healthy development.

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