Background: Childhood mortality from infectious diseases has declined steadily in many low and middle-income (LAMIC) countries, with increased recognition of non-communicable diseases such as neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD). There is lack of data on the burden of NDD in LAMIC. Current global burden of these disorders are largely extrapolated from high-income countries. The main objective of the study was therefore to estimate the burden of NDD in LAMIC using meta-analytic techniques.
Methods: We systematically searched online databases including Medline/PubMed, PsychoInfo, and Embase for studies that reported prevalence or incidence of NDD. Pooled prevalence, heterogeneity and risk factors for prevalence were determined using meta-analytic techniques.
Results: We identified 4,802 records, but only 51 studies met the eligibility criteria. Most studies were from Asia-Pacific (52.2%) and most were on neurological disorders (63.1%). The median pooled prevalence per 1,000 for any NDD was 7.6 (95%CI 7.5-7.7), being 11.3 (11.7-12.0) for neurological disorders and 3.2 (95%CI 3.1-3.3) for mental conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The type of NDD was significantly associated with the greatest prevalence ratio in the multivariable model (PR=2.6(95%CI 0.6-11.6) (P>0.05). Incidence was only reported for epilepsy (mean of 447.7 (95%CI 415.3-481.9) per 100,000). Perinatal complications were the commonest risk factor for NDD.
Conclusion: The burden of NDD in LAMIC is considerable. Epidemiological surveys on NDD should screen all types of NDD to provide reliable estimates.