More Americans Reporting Disability

Arthritis, rheumatism, back and heart problems most common causes
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- The number of Americans reporting disabilities rose by 7.7 percent from 44.1 million in 1999 to 47.5 million in 2005, according to a report in the May 1 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Matthew W. Brault, of the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C., and colleagues write that the prevalence of disability was far higher in women than men, at 24.4 and 19.1 percent, respectively, and doubled from one age group to the next, at 11 percent for those aged 18 to 44, 23.9 percent for the 45 to 65 age group, and 51.8 percent for those aged 65 and above.

Arthritis or rheumatism is the most commonly reported cause of disability, affecting 8.6 million Americans, followed by back or spine problems (7.6 million), and heart trouble (3.0 million), the researchers note. Given that the baby-boomer generation born from 1946 to 1964 is now aging, the number of adults reporting disability is expected to increase further, they write.

"To accommodate the expected increase in demand for disability-related medical and public health services, expanding the reach of effective strategies and interventions aimed at preventing progression to disability and improving disability management in the population is necessary," the authors conclude.

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