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India has maximum kids under 5 years living with developmental disabilities

Over one crore. That's the number of children under five years with developmental disabilities in India. A study in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet says India has the highest number in the world.

The study looked at 195 countries and six developmental disabilities. These included epilepsy, intellectual disability, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hearing loss and vision loss. With 1.15 crore, India had the maximum number in all the disabilities barring ADHD. China has the maximum number of children under five years with ADHD.

The study points to the need to make Identification of the major causes and effects of developmental disabilities an urgent priority. It also identifies the major challenges in this regard.

First, most of the countries in those regions lack functional health-care and social-care systems to support children with disabilities. Second, the lifetime costs of supporting children with disabilities are substantial and might further impoverish many poor families and communities. Third, societal stigma and unfavourable cultural beliefs place children at great risk of neglect, violence, or even infanticide. - The Lancet, Global Health.

The study has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It says India also has the highest number of children living with long years of disabilities. The good news is that India has seen a slight decline in the number of overall cases from 1.20 crore in 1995 to 1.15 crore in 2016.

In all, the top 10 countries with the largest burden of developmental disability are India, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Congo, Bangladesh and Tanzania.

The study emphasises the need for immediate action and says there is a need to look at identifying the major causes as well as look at the reasons for the high prevalence.

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