The prevalence of developmental disorders in Looked after Children in Sheffield compared to the general population.
Presented in National Medical Students Paediatric Conference (NMSPC) 2014, Brighton, UK
Cristina Parente.
Sheffield University, UK.
Introduction: It is well documented that Looked After Children (LAC) are more likely to experience educational/behavioural difficulties and developmental disorders compared to the general population, although exact figures are unknown. (1) We sought to identify the prevalence of developmental problems in the population of LAC in Sheffield.

Methods: A register was compiled using the local authorities database: Care First, which included all LAC from Sheffield as at 11 Jan 2013 (n=566). 106 children were identified as being referred to the Ryegate centre (a neurodisability centre) in Sheffield. Their notes were reviewed to record: DOB, sex, date care was started, referral date, and working diagnosis. This data was compared to national statistics for the general population.

Results: 87.7% (93/106) of children referred to the Ryegate centre were diagnosed with a developmental disorder (representing 16.4% of the population of LAC in Sheffield). The most common diagnoses were learning difficulties (50% of diagnoses) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (21.7%). These diagnoses represent 9.4% and 4.06% of LAC in Sheffield respectively, compared to the prevalence of 2.08% (2) and 1% (3) in the general population of children.

Conclusion: The results clearly demonstrate an increased prevalence of developmental disorders in the population of LAC compared to the general population. Additionally, the results are likely to be an under-representation of the true figure, as an undetermined number of developmental disorders are diagnosed and managed within the community. This is an area for further research.

  1. Meltzer H, Corbin T, Gatward R, et al. The Mental Health of Young People Looked after by Local Authorities in England. London: Office of National Statistics. 2003.
  2. Improving Health and Lives: Learning Disabilities Observatory. People with Learning disabilities in England, 2012.London:Public Health England. 2012.
  3. Baron-Cohen S, Scott F, Williams C, et al. Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions:UK school-based population studyBr J Psychiatry. 2009; 194: 500-509.

Cite this article as:
Parente C. The prevalence of developmental disorders in Looked after Children in Sheffield compared to the general population. Pediatr Oncall J. 2014;11. doi: 10.7199/ped.oncall.2014.14S
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