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Human Development and Disability

Group of people with disabilities

National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) prevents disease and promotes equity in health and development of people with or at risk for disabilities. Infants, children, youth and adults should have the opportunity for full participation in life.

Our focus includes these key efforts:

We are committed to a life course perspective—by that we mean not only thinking about people of all ages, but also recognizing the importance of earlier experiences in setting the course for later life; and understanding how people live over their lifespan.

Public health has a vital role to play in promoting the health and quality of life for people with, and at risk for, disabilities. There are 54 million people in the United States who have a disability, and many more are at risk for developing or acquiring one in their lifetime through injury, illness or aging. People with disabilities represent a diverse group of children, youth, adults and elders who share the experience of living with limitations in cognition, mobility, hearing, vision, or behavioral/mental health functioning.

Disability-associated health costs are substantial—estimated at almost $400 billion in 2006, with public resources paying 70% of those costs. Despite these costs, people with disabilities are four times as likely to report fair or poor health compared to people without a disability. We know that many health problems for people with disabilities are preventable through improved access to health care services and health programs.

CDC formally recognized the health of people with disabilities as a significant public health concern in 1988 when it established a program to promote the health of people with disabilities and to prevent health problems that are frequently experienced. This program strives to include people with disabilities in mainstream health programs and services wherever possible, to support the development of cross-disability-specific programs when necessary, and to help build condition-specific programs when essential. The needs of disability populations are addressed through a network of state disability and health programs, public practice and resource centers, and a disability and health data system.

NCBDDD invests in child development, including early hearing detection and intervention programs, since childhood is the ideal time for interventions that promote lifetime health and development. NCBDDD focuses on certain child-onset conditions and infant hearing loss so that children can reach their full potential in life.

We coordinate with many CDC programs that focus on chronic diseases, injuries, emergency preparedness, environmental health, and minority health. Our collaborative work with other agencies and organizations to influences research, programs and policies for the populations we serve. Recognizing that resources are limited now and in the future, NCBDDD will continue to cultivate strategic partnerships, capacity building, and collaborations to obtain maximum effect and positive outcomes.



Disability OverviewDivison of Human Development and Disability Overview





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Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

    1600 Clifton Road
    MS E-87
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO
  • Page last reviewed: September 6, 2012
  • Page last updated: September 6, 2012 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO