Numerous studies have investigated the prevalence of neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders individually, but few have examined them collectively, and there is uncertainty as to what extent they overlap.
The study has determined the proportions of children aged 0 to 11 years with diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, and cerebral palsy (CP) in Norway. The data were obtained from the Norwegian Patient Register, which is nationwide and contains diagnoses assigned by Norwegian specialist health services (hospitals and outpatient clinics). The Norwegian Patient Register started collecting individual-level data in 2008, and the follow-up period for the study is years 2008 through 2010.
For ASD, ADHD, and epilepsy, the proportions were highest in the oldest children. At age 11 years, the incidence was 0.7% for ASD, 2.9% for ADHD, and 0.9% for epilepsy. The cumulative incidence is likely to be higher because some cases diagnosed before 2008 were probably missed. For CP, the proportions were ∼0.3% for age ≥5 years. There was considerable overlap between diagnoses. For all disorders, boys had a significantly increased risk. In school-age children (aged 6–11 years) the male/female ratio was 4.3 for ASD, 2.9 for ADHD, 1.2 for epilepsy, and 1.3 for CP.
The findings demonstrate the significant burden of disease associated with neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders in children and that this burden is disproportionately skewed toward boys.