Behind the StatisticsUnderstanding what’s behind the statistics of autism, ADHD, allergies, asthma and other chronic childhood conditions will help you understand that epidemics aren’t genetic.

There is a vast body of medical literature indicating that the increased rates of everything from autism to asthma are due to true increases in disease, not just better diagnosis or better patient capture.

This epidemic is real.

The rates of these disorders are increasing so quickly that the causes cannot be due solely to genes.If a disease or disorder were genetic, it would occur as roughly the same percentage of the population over time.

The environment plays a critical role in modulating gene expression and recent developments in the field of epigenetics tell us that our DNA is being “turned on and off” by our environmental exposures.

“Genetics load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger.”

A Look Behind the Statistics

A look behind the statistics reflects an epidemic of chronic inflammatory conditions and developmental delays in the U.S. that is staggering and points to the impact of the environment on our health:

  • Asthma affects 1 in 8 children, and as many as 1 in 6 African American children. Asthma costs the U.S. $56 billion per year.
  • One in 3 American children is either overweight or obese; obesity-related medical costs account for $190 billion or 21% of medical spending in the United States; childhood obesity carries a price tag of $14 billion a year in direct medical costs.
  • One in 5 children entering kindergarten carries a mental health diagnosis.
  • One in 20 children is diagnosed with pediatric depression. The U.S. spends $83 billion a year on depression.
  • It is estimated that at least 10% of American children have ADD/ADHD (one-in-five boys) and 17% are labeled as “learning disabled.” ADHD is estimated to cost the US upwards of $100 billion per year.
  • Rates of autism have risen over the last few decades from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 68 children. Autism costs the U.S. $268 billion per year with the potential to reach $1 trillion by 2025. What we pay to manage autism in this country on an annual basis is more money than has been spent on the entire NASA program since its inception in 1971. Autism costs the US more than the combined budgets of the Department of Health and Human Services ($73.7 billion), the Department of Education ($68.6 billion), the Department of Housing and Urban Development ($32.6 billion), and the Department of Agriculture ($21.5 billion).
  • Nearly 2.5% of U.S. children may have an allergy to peanuts.
  • A study conducted at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found: of > 11 million hospitalization records examined of patients < 20 years old there was a 49% increase from 2000 to 2009 in Crohn’s disease discharges and a 71% increase in ulcerative colitis discharges

What’s more, there are many anecdotal reports of conditions/symptoms that aren’t well tracked also increasing dramatically. Some of these conditions/symptoms include:

  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • PANDAS/PANS
  • Sensory Processing/Integration Disorder
  • Behavioral/mood disorders (bipolar/depression/anxiety)
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Loose stools/diarrhea
  • Chronic ear infections, sinus infections, urinary tract infections
  • Constipation/going several days without a bowel movement
  • Red cheeks/ears after eating
  • Self-limiting feeding (e.g., only eating a few white foods)
  • Excessive tantruming/defiance
  • Chronic mouth breathing/swollen glands
  • Delays in walking/talking/crawling
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors/repetitive behaviors/aggressive behaviors
  • Eczema, skin rashes
  • Sensory issues: Sensitivity/aversion to light, sound, textures

Still Looking for Answers?

Visit the Epidemic Answers Provider Directory to find a practitioner near you.

Related Pages

Allergies

Anxiety

Asthma

Attention Deficits Disorders (ADD and ADHD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autoimmune Disorders

Diabetes

Emotional, Mood and Behavioral Symptoms

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Learning Disabilities

PANS/PANDAS

Sensory Processing Disorder

Speech and Language Issues

Why Are We So Sick?

References

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Asthma Uncontrolled in 85% of Inner City Students. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Online. 2006 Jul 10.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 21 percent increase in childhood peanut allergy since 2010: More children have food allergies, including more black children. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2017 Oct 27.

American Lung Association. Asthma and Children Fact Sheet.

Autism Research Institute. ARI Calls for Immediate Federal Response to New Autism Figures. 2009 Oct.

Autism Research Institute. Recently Released Data from the National Survey of Children’s Health Reports that Autism Now Affects 1% of Children and is More Common Than Children’s Cancer, Diabetes, and AIDS combined. Reuters. 2009 Aug 3.

The Autism Society of America. Facts and Statistics.

Bertrand, J., et al. Prevalence of Autism in a United States Population: The Brick Township, New Jersey, Investigation. Pediatrics 108, no. 5. 2001 Nov: 1155-116.

Bitsko, R.H., et al. Epidemiology and Impact of Health Care Provider-Diagnosed Anxiety and Depression Among US Children. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2018 Apr 24.

Blanco, Carlos, et al. Mental Health of College Students and Their Non–College-Attending Peers: Results From the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry 65, no. 12 (2008): 1429-1437.

Blaxill, M.F. What’s Going On? The Question of Time Trends in Autism. Public Health Rep. 2004 Nov-Dec; 119(6): 536–551.

Branum, Amy M., MSPH and Lukacs, Susan L., DO MSPH. Food Allergy Among U.S. Children, Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control, NCHS Data Brief No. 10. 2008 Oct.

Brotman, Melissa A., et al. Prevalence, clinical correlates, and longitudinal course of severe mood dysregulation in childrenBiol Psychiatry. 2006 Nov 1;60(9):991-7.

Campbell-McBride, Natasha. GAPS, the Gut and Psychology Syndrome. (lecture, The Weston A. Price Foundation, Wise Traditions Conference, San Francisco, CA. 2008 Nov 8.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma Prevalence.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity Prevalence.

The Centers for Disease Control. QuickStats: Percentage of Children Aged 5-17 Years Ever Having Diagnoses of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Learning Disability (LD) by Sex and Diagnosis. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly 54, no. 43. 2005 Nov: 1107.

Froehlich, Tanya E., et al. Prevalence, Recognition, and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a National Sample of US ChildrenArch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Sep;161(9):857-64.

Gilliam, Walter S., PhD. Prekindergarteners Left Behind: Expulsion Rates in State Prekindergarten Programs. Foundation for Child Development Policy Brief, Series No. 3. 2005 May.

Hamilton, S. Sutton, et al. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. American Family Physician, 78, no. 7. 2008 Oct: 861-866.

Hertz-Picciotto, I., et al. The Rise in Autism and the Role of Age at Diagnosis. Epidemiology. 2009 Jan;20(1):84-90.

Huanqing Qi, Cathy, et al., Behavior Problems of Preschool Children From Low-Income Families: Review of the Literature. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education 162. 2005 Jun.

Jakobsen, C., et al. Incidence of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in Danish children: Still rising or leveling out? J Crohns Colitis. 2008 Jun;2(2):152-7.

Johnson, C.P., et al. Identification and Evaluation of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Pediatrics 120, no. 5. 2007 Nov.

Lanphear, B.P., et al. Increasing Prevalence of Recurrent Otitis Media Among Children in the United States. Pediatrics. 1997 Mar;99(3):E1.

National Institutes of Mental Health. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): The Basics.

Pelham, William E., et al. The Economic Impact of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents. Ambul Pediatr. 2007 Jan-Feb;7(1 Suppl):121-31.

Perrin, J.M., Bloom, S.R., Gortmaker, S.L.. The increase of childhood chronic conditions in the United States. JAMA. 2007;297(24):2755-9.

Reid, Sue. One child in 60 ‘suffers from a form of autism’. The Daily Mail Online. 2009 Mar 20.

Rx for Behavior Problems in Pre-K. Preschool Matters, A Publication of the National Institute for Early Education Research 5. 2007 Nov/Dec.

Shattuck, P.T. The Contribution of Diagnostic Substitution to the Growing Administrative Prevalence of Autism in US Special Education. Pediatrics 117, no. 4. 2006 Apr: 1028-1037.

Stanley, Mary Jo, RN MS. Assessing Prevalence of Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Suspended Middle School Students. The Journal of School Nursing 22 (2006): 40-47.

University of California, Davis. Autism Costs Estimated to Reach Nearly $500 billion, Potentially $1 Trillion, by 2025. 2015 Jul 28.

van Limbergen, Johan, et al. A detailed investigation into epidemiological risk factors for childhood onset inflammatory bowel disease in Scotland. Gastroenterology 134, no. 4 (2008): A189.

Waterhouse, Lynn. Autism Overflows: Increasing Prevalence and Proliferating Theories. Neuropsychology Review 18 (2008) 273-286.

Books

Lambert, Beth and Kobliner, Victoria. A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children. Sentient Publications, 2010.

Lieberman, Phil MD and Anderson, John A. MD. Allergic Diseases. Totowa, NJ: Human Press, 2007.

Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011.

Nakazawa, Donna Jackson. The Autoimmune Epidemic. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.