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Communication disorders: prevalence and comorbid intellectual disability, autism, and emotional/behavioral disorders


To determine a population-based estimate of communication disorders (CDs) in children; the co-occurrence of intellectual disability (ID), autism, and emotional/behavioral disorders; and the impact of these conditions on the prevalence of CDs.


Surveillance targeted 8-year-olds born in 1994 residing in 2002 in the 3 most populous counties in Utah (n = 26,315). A multiple-source record review was conducted at all major health and educational facilities.


A total of 1,667 children met the criteria of CD. The prevalence of CD was estimated to be 63.4 per 1,000 8-year-olds (95% confidence interval = 60.4-66.2). The ratio of boys to girls was 1.8:1. Four percent of the CD cases were identified with an ID and 3.7% with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Adjusting the CD prevalence to exclude ASD and/or ID cases significantly affected the CD prevalence rate. Other frequently co-occurring emotional/behavioral disorders with CD were attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and conduct disorder.


Findings affirm that CDs and co-occurring mental health conditions are a major educational and public health concern.

Pinborough-Zimmerman J, Satterfield R, Miller J, Bilder D, Hossain S, McMahon W
Am J Speech Lang Pathol, 16(4), 359-67

Utah Department of Health