Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Global and regional prevalence of disabilities among children and adolescents: analysis of findings from global health databases

Davis, Adrian C. (2022) Global and regional prevalence of disabilities among children and adolescents: analysis of findings from global health databases. Frontiers in Public Health, 10. ISSN 2296-2565

[img] Text (fpubh-10-977453 (1)) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB)
Identification Number: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.977453


Objective: The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require population-based data on children with disabilities to inform global policies and intervention programs. We set out to compare the prevalence estimates of disabilities among children and adolescents younger than 20 years as reported by the world's leading organizations for global health statistics. Methods: We purposively searched the disability reports and databases of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) Study. We analyzed the latest disability data reported by these organizations since 2015. We examined the methodologies adopted in generating the reported prevalence estimates and evaluated the degree of agreement among the data sources using Welch's test of statistical difference, and the two one-sided t-test (TOST) for statistical equivalence. Results: Only UNICEF and GBD provided the most comprehensive prevalence estimates of disabilities in children and adolescents. Globally, UNICEF estimated that 28.9 million (4.3%) children aged 0–4 years, 207.4 million (12.5%) children aged 5–17 years and 236.4 million (10.1%) children aged 0–17 years have moderate-to-severe disabilities based on household surveys of child functional status. Using the UNICEF estimated prevalence of 10.1%, approximately 266 million children aged 0–19 years are expected to have moderate-to-severe disabilities. In contrast, GBD 2019 estimated that 49.8 million (7.5%) children aged under 5 years, 241.5 million (12.6%) children aged 5–19 years and 291.3 million (11.3%) children younger than 20 years have mild-to-severe disabilities. In both databases, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounted for more than half of children with disabilities. A comparison of the UNICEF and GBD estimates showed that the overall mean prevalence estimates for children under 5 years were statistically different and not statistically equivalent based on ±3 percentage-point margin. However, the prevalence estimates for children 5–19 years and < 20 years were not statistically different and were statistically equivalent. Conclusion: Prevalence estimates of disabilities among children and adolescents generated using either functional approach or statistical modeling appear to be comparable and complementary. Improved alignment of the age-groups, thresholds of disability and the estimation process across databases, particularly among children under 5 years should be considered. Children and adolescents with disabilities will be well-served by a variety of complementary data sources to optimize their health and well-being as envisioned in the SDGs.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2022 15:18
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2024 04:42

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics