Objectives: To examine disparities in the prevalence of the limitation of activity caused by chronic conditions or disability for black and white non-Hispanic children and to examine trends over time in the prevalence of disability.
Design: We analyzed data on 419,843 children (22,758 with a disability) younger than 18 years included in 14 annual editions of the National Health Interview Survey spanning the period 1979-2000.
Setting: Noninstitutionalized population in the United States.
Main outcome measure: Prevalence of disability.
Results: The prevalence of disability increased markedly for both black and white children between 1979 and 2000. Bivariate analysis demonstrated racial differences that fluctuated through time, but persisted through 2000, with black children experiencing a higher prevalence of disability than white children. Multivariate analyses conducted on the 1999-2000 data indicated that the black-white difference in disability prevalence could be explained entirely by differences in poverty status.
Conclusion: Black children have higher rates of disability primarily owing to their increased exposure to poverty.