Mental disorder in children and adolescents with learning disabilities between 30 and 50%

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The extent to which mental disorder and learning disability co-occur varies substantially between studies. This review set out to identify studies in children and/or adolescents with acceptably rigorous methods and to ascertain key risk factors.

The review found nine studies with acceptable methods, 4 which compared prevalence of mental disorder in populations of those with and without learning disability, and 5 studies estimated rates of mental disorder in those with learning disability.

The studies demonstrate rates of co-morbidity for children and adolescents between 30 and 50% with a relative risk of mental disorder associated with learning disability ranging from 2.8–4.5.

As result of the review of the studies, risks for co-morbidity associated with age, gender, severity of learning disability, and socioeconomic status remain uncertain.

Comorbidity of intellectual disability and mental disorder in children and adolescents: A systematic review, Einfeld S et al, in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 36, 2 , 137-143

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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