Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mental Illness Leading Cause of Youth Disability

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Young people are usually considered healthier than older people, but around the world, they lose years of their lives to disability, according to a recent study in The Lancet. Researchers used data from the World Health Organization’s 2004 Global Burden of Disease study.

The three main causes of years lost to disability in 10- to 24-year-olds were neuropsychiatric disorders—including mental illnesses and alcohol abuse. That proportion was far ahead of accidents (15 percent) and infectious and parasitic diseases (10 percent), the next leading causes of disability.

“The health of young people has been largely neglected in global public health,” concluded Fiona Gore, of the Department of Health Statistics and Informatics at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues. “The findings of this study suggest that adolescent health would benefit from increased public health attention.”

For more about mental health epidemiology among young people, see Psychiatric News at


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