Increased risk of injury in children with developmental disabilities

Li Ching Lee, Rebecca A. Harrington, Jen Jen Chang, Susan L. Connors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to examine injury risk in children with autism, ADD/ADHD, learning disability, psychopathology, or other medical conditions. Children aged 3-5 years who participated in the National Survey of Children's Health were included. Six study groups were analyzed in this report: autism (n = 82), ADD/ADHD (n = 191), learning disability (n = 307), psychopathology (n = 210), other medical conditions (n = 1802), and unaffected controls (n = 13,398). The weighted prevalence of injury in each group was 24.2% (autism), 26.5% (ADD/ADHD), 9.3% (learning disability), 20.5% (psychopathology), 14.6% (other medical conditions), and 11.9% (unaffected controls). Compared to unaffected controls, the risk of injury was 2.15 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.00-4.60), 2.74 (95% CI: 1.63-4.59), 2.06 (95% CI: 1.24-3.42), and 1.26 (95% CI: 1.00-1.58) in children with autism, ADD/ADHD, psychopathology, and other medical conditions, respectively, after adjusting for child sex, child age, number of children in the household, child race, and family poverty level. Children with autism, ADD/ADHD, and other psychopathology were about 2-3 times more likely to experience an injury that needs medical attention than unaffected controls. Future studies need to clarify the extent to which injuries in young children with autism, ADD/ADHD, and psychopathology are related to core symptoms, comorbid conditions, associated behaviors, or unintentional injuries due to lack of additional supervision from caregivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008


  • ADHD
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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