(MCCLATCHY) WASHINGTON — Up to one in five American youngsters – some 7 million to 12 million by one estimate – experience a mental health disorder each year, according to a new report billed as the first comprehensive look at the mental health status of American children.

And the rate is increasing, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which produced the study, released Thursday.

Childhood mental disorders that alter the way children learn, behave and cope with their emotions affect 13 percent to 20 percent of youths under age 18, the CDC said. They also cost families and society at large an estimated $247 billion a year in treatment, special education, juvenile justice and decreased productivity, it stated.

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