Chronic Conditions Becoming More Common in Children

More than half of children had a condition lasting more than a year during recent six-year period
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic health conditions have become increasingly more common in children in recent decades, according to research published in the Feb. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jeanne Van Cleave, M.D., of MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Child Cohort on three groups of children, ages 2 through 8 years, that were followed for successive six-year periods between 1988 and 2006. Chronic conditions -- which lasted for at least a year and required treatment -- included obesity, asthma, other physical conditions, and behavior or learning problems.

The researchers found that the prevalence of having a chronic condition at any point during the six-year period increased roughly 10 percent with each cohort, with 51.5 percent of the most recent cohort having a chronic condition at some point. However, these conditions were dynamic, with 9.3 percent having conditions at the beginning of the period that resolved later in the period, and 13.4 percent having new problems arising during the period.

"The obesity epidemic seemed to develop at a time when many indicators suggested that children's health was generally improving. The data presented by Van Cleave et al suggest that the prevalence of other chronic health conditions is also increasing among U.S. children and that obesity is not the only clinical time bomb ticking away in children," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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