Burden of neurodevelopmental disorders in low and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Document Type



Institute for Human Development


Abstract: 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.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Wellcome open research