For asthma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the objectives were to (1) describe the percent increases in prevalence and comorbidity and how these vary by poverty status, and (2) examine the extent to which poverty status is a predictor of higher than average comorbid conditions.


Secondary analyses of the National Survey of Children’s Health for years 2003, 2007, and 2011–2012 were conducted to identify trends in parent reported lifetime prevalence and comorbidity among children with asthma, ADHD, and ASD and examine variation by sociodemographic characteristics, poverty status, and insurance coverage. Using 2011–2012 data, multivariable regression was used to examine whether poverty status predicted higher than average comorbid conditions after adjusting for other sociodemographic characteristics.


Parent-reported lifetime prevalence of asthma and ADHD rose 18% and 44%, respectively, whereas the lifetime prevalence of ASD rose almost 400% (from 0.5% to 2%). For asthma, the rise was most prominent among the poor at 25.8%. For ADHD, the percent change by poverty status was similar (<100% federal poverty level [FPL]: 43.20%, 100% to 199% FPL: 52.38%, 200% to 399% FPL: 43.67%), although rise in ASD was associated with being nonpoor (200% to 399% FPL: 43.6%, ≥400% FPL: 36.0%). Publicly insured children with asthma, ADHD, and ASD also had significantly higher odds (1.9×, 1.6×, 3.0×, respectively) of having higher than average comorbidities.


Poverty status differentially influenced parent-reported lifetime prevalence and comorbidities of these target disorders. Future research is needed to examine parent and system-level characteristics that may further explain poverty’s variable impact.

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