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5 Most Common Childhood Disorders

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5 Most Common Childhood Disorders

Colleen McGuire

Updated: March 22, 2017    Published: December 19, 2014

Guest post by Vitals

If you’re like most parents, you’ve been worrying about your children’s health – even before they were born. Most of the time, your concerns are groundless, as your child may have nothing more serious than an ear infection or the common cold. But there are some conditions that are more serious and may significantly interfere with a child’s quality of life.Here are five of the most common disorders in children, with a list of symptoms and treatment options.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists ADHD as one of the most common disorders affecting the mental development of children. Approximately 11 percent of children aged 4 to 17 were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.

ADHD inhibits the child’s ability to focus and often leads to behavioral difficulties. If your child has this disorder, you might notice the following behaviors:

  • Excessive daydreaming
  • Inability to sit still
  • Forgetfulness
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Extreme talkativeness
  • Argumentativeness

Although all children exhibit these behaviors from time to time, they are more pronounced and constant in those with ADHD, and the child does not shed them until adulthood. Thus, ADHD can significantly interfere with a child’s school and home life.

The good news is that ADHD can be successfully treated by combining medicine and therapy.


Autism is the most common brain developmental disorder, with an estimated one in 110 children affected, according to the CDC.

Early signs of autism are noticeable in toddlers, often before 3-years-old, with delayed development in mental, physical, verbal or behavioral abilities. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the type and severity of symptoms cover a wide range of possibilities.

The treatment for autism typically involves a combination of behavioral training, speech/ physical therapy, and medication.

Because those with autism experience a wide range of symptoms, it is difficult to predict recovery outcomes. Some children develop all the skills they need and go on to lead completely independent lives, while others need lifelong assistance.

Down Syndrome

Down syndrome, in which an individual has an extra copy of chromosome 21, is the most common chromosomal aberration; according to the National Down Syndrome Society. One baby in 691 will have DS, but the risks increase with the mother’s age. For instance, a woman who is 25-years-old has a risk factor of 1 in 1,200, compared to a 40-year-old woman whose risk is 1 in 100.

There are both physical and mental presentations of the disorder.


  • Small in stature
  • Eyes that slant upward
  • Reduced muscle tone


  • Mild to moderate cognitive delay

With proper education and health care, those with Down syndrome can lead productive lives, with an average life expectancy that is close to those who don’t have this disorder.

Cerebral Palsy

According to WebMD, cerebral palsy stems from either a brain injury or complications with brain development and is one of the most common causes of motor disability in children. The CDC says that approximately one in 323 children in the US has been diagnosed with CP.

The symptoms of CP vary in the type of motor function affected and severity of the affliction, with developmental delays usually being the first signs of this disorder. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Slight limp
  • Lack of control over arms and legs
  • Difficulty eating or speaking
  • Problems with posture

Over time, these symptoms may worsen or new ones can develop.

Physical therapy could help improve the motor difficulties, while special equipment, such as walkers, can help the child lead a productive life. Surgery and medication may also be treatment options.

Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that manifests in sudden, repetitive involuntary movements or vocalizations (tics). There are no firm figures on the numbers of people who have Tourette syndrome in the U.S.; in data released by the CDC, figures range from one in 360 children to one in 162 children.

The symptoms vary depending on severity, but may include:

  • Eye movement
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Sniffing
  • Eye blinking
  • Jumping
  • Facial grimacing
  • Grunting
  • Barking
  • Swearing

There are some medications that can help minimize these tics, but none have been found to totally eliminate the symptoms. A combination of medication and behavioral therapy may be helpful, and this condition is usually not disabling.

While parents can’t protect their children from many disorders and conditions, there are great online resources and organizations that can educate families on how to minimize the effect these disorders have on their child’s life.



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