Growing Up With Illness Impairs Education and Income

But childhood chronic illness gives equal odds for normal social development

FRIDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults who grow up with chronic illness may succeed socially, but are more likely to have inferior educational and economic outcomes, according to a study published online Feb. 4 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Gary R. Maslow, M.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues reviewed the data of participants aged 24 to 32 who took part in the 2008 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Outcomes -- including marriage, children, relationships, educational achievements, earnings, and employment -- were compared among respondents with childhood-onset cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or epilepsy to those who did not experience chronic illness.

The investigators found that respondents who had suffered from a chronic childhood illness had similar odds of living with their parents, getting married, and having children compared to those who had not suffered from a childhood illness. The chronic illness group was less likely to finish college (odds ratio [OR], 0.49) and have a job (OR, 0.56), and was more likely to receive public aid (OR, 2.13) and earn less money.

"Although the majority of young adults with childhood-onset chronic illness are successful in terms of completing high school and having a current job, they are at disproportionate risk of poorer educational and vocational outcomes as compared with those without any chronic illness," the authors write.

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