Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Study (MADDS)

The Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Study (MADDS) was the first U.S. population-based epidemiologic study of the prevalence of intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, vision impairment, and epilepsy among school-aged children. The success of MADDS prompted CDC to launch the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP) in 1991. The methods developed for MADDS were expanded to establish MADDSP and ultimately were used as a model for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

The goals of MADDS were to:

  • Develop methods for the surveillance of developmental disabilities.
  • Establish prevalence estimates for five developmental disabilities: cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hearing loss, intellectual disability, and vision impairment.
  • Generate hypotheses for further study of risk factors for these five developmental disabilities.


MADDS was conducted in five counties (i.e., Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett) in metropolitan Atlanta and included children who were identified at 10 years of age in 1985, 1986, or 1987. MADDS identified children with cerebral palsy, hearing loss, intellectual disability, or vision impairment, or any combination thereof, through review of records at health and education sources (such as clinics and schools) in metropolitan Atlanta. MADDS staff identified children with epilepsy through review of records at numerous electroencephalography (EEG) laboratories in metropolitan Atlanta, in addition to the MADDS data sources for the other four developmental disabilities.

MADDS Criteria and Definitions

MADDS included children:

  • Who were 10 years of age any time during 1985, 1986, or 1987;
  • Whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) lived in one of the five selected counties of metropolitan Atlanta at some time during 1985, 1986, or 1987; and
  • Who had one or more of the five selected developmental disabilities studied by MADDS.

Read the technical surveillance case definition for each of the developmental disabilities tracked by MADDS »