Mental health of children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities in Britain

Br J Psychiatry. 2007 Dec;191:493-9. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.038729.


Background: Few studies have employed formal diagnostic criteria to determine the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in contemporaneous samples of children with and without intellectual disabilities.

Aims: To establish the prevalence of psychiatric disorders against ICD-10 criteria among children with and without intellectual disabilities, the association with social/environmental risk factors, and risk attributable to intellectual disability.

Method: Secondary analysis of the 1999 and 2004 Office for National Statistics surveys of the mental health of British children and adolescents with (n=641) and without (n=17 774) intellectual disability.

Results: Prevalence of psychiatric disorders was 36% among children with intellectual disability and 8% among children without (OR=6.5). Children with intellectual disabilities accounted for 14% of all British children with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Increased prevalence was particularly marked for autistic-spectrum disorder (OR=33.4), hyperkinesis (OR=8.4) and conduct disorders (OR=5.7). Cumulative risk of exposure to social disadvantage was associated with increased prevalence.

Conclusions: A significant proportion of the elevated risk for psychopathology among children with intellectual disability may be due to their increased rate of exposure to psychosocial disadvantage.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Mental Health
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors