Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

More Kids Than Ever Have Psychological Problems

WebMD Health News

June 5, 2000 -- The number of children with psychological, emotional, and developmental problems has grown dramatically in recent years, say researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. They suggest that the rise in poverty and single-parent households may be partly to blame.

"We conducted a national study and found that psychosocial problems in children essentially tripled between 1979 and 1996," says Kelly J. Kelleher, MD, MPH, whose research was published in the journal Pediatrics. "Physicians are frankly being overwhelmed by the large number of children with behavior and developmental problems now coming into their practices." Kelly is the Staunton professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Although increases were found in nearly all types of psychological problems, the biggest came in the area of attentional problems, such as ADHD. Children in single-parent households, those receiving Medicaid, and older boys were most likely to have psychosocial problems, the researchers found.

In 1996, the research team asked almost 400 pediatricians and family doctors to gather data on more than 21,000 children, ages 4 to 15. Their responses were compared to information collected in 1979 on 18,000 children from Rochester, N.Y. In 1979, the researchers found about 7% of children had psychosocial problems, while by 1996, this had increased to about 19% -- almost one child out of five.

The physicians noted many different sorts of problems, ranging from trouble adjusting to stresses -- such as moving, divorce or death -- to learning problems, lying and stealing, and mental illness. The greatest problem was ADHD, which was found 1% of the time in 1979 and increased to 9% in 1996.

"Our data suggest a large part of this increase in childhood problems is due to the explosion in low-income Medicaid patients, and the fairly significant rise in single-parent households," Kelleher says.

One expert who was not involved in the study notes that there are probably two explanations for its findings: not only is the incidence of psychosocial problems increasing, but health care professionals also are becoming more sophisticated at diagnosis. "I think it's a combination of the two," says psychologist James Ewell, PhD., "but undeniably, today there is much more training and awareness about children's emotional and psychosocial problems." Ewell is a psychologist in private practice in Eugene, Ore.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections