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Boys More Likely to Have Problems Reading

Boys were two to three times more likely than girls to be affected by reading disabilities, according to a Mayo Clinic study of 5,718 children in Rochester, Minnesota.

The objective of the study was to report the incidence of reading disability among school-aged children. Overall, the incidence of reading disability was 5.3 percent to 11.8 percent depending on the definition used to establish it. The study’s results and an editorial on the topic appear in theMayo Clinic Proceedings.

“Our study provides a powerful opportunity to learn more about reading disability,” says Slavica K. Katusic, M.D., a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and the primary author of the study. “These data demonstrate that reading disability is common among children and should be included among the differential diagnoses considered in children having problems with learning. Moreover, these data suggest that this diagnosis should be given a higher prior probability in boys than in girls.”

The majority — approximately 80 percent — of children identified as having learning disabilities have their primary academic problem in reading. The World Federation of Neurology defines reading disability as a disorder manifested by difficulty in learning to read despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence and socio-cultural opportunity.

The study’s report is from an ongoing epidemiologic study of learning disability among all children born from 1976 through 1982 in Rochester, Minnesota. An interdisciplinary team of investigators used comprehensive, medical, educational and tutorial resources available on all 5,718 children.

Currently, there are no universally accepted tests, assessment batteries or standards for identifying children with learning disability. The Mayo researchers report that they employed the most widely used approaches to determine eligibility for reading disability intervention.
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