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February 17, 2010

Chronic health problems among children on the rise

We've talked a lot about the three-decade rise in childhood obesity. But it's not the only chronic health problem children struggle with.

In fact, the prevalence of child chronic health conditions, from asthma to behavioral problems, increased  from nearly 13 percent in 1994 to nearly 27 percent in 2006, according to a new study appearing in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association.

Harvard researchers examined three groups of children ages two to eight and followed them for six years.

Despite the overall increase, most children got better over the course of the study period. Only about 7 percent of children who reported a chronic health problem in the beginning of the study had one six years later, researchers found.

(This begs for a definition of the word "chronic." The study defined a chronic condition as one lasting at least 12 months). Among the illnesses they found: diabetes, heart problems, ADHD and ear infections.

While the increase in obesity has been well-documented, the rise in other conditions is less understood, the study states. 

One explanation is that children have better access to specialized care for chronic problems and are able to survive diseases today that would have killed them decades ago, the study explains.

The National Children's Study, a massive government effort to study children from their mother's pregnancies through their 21st birthday, could help explain the trends, an accompanying editorial states. For now though, the issue needs to be addressed, say Dr. Neal Halfon of UCLA and Paul W. Newacheck, of the University of California at San Francisco.

The data presented by Van Cleave et al suggest that the prevalence of other chronic health conditions is also increasing among US children and that obesity is not the only clinical time bomb ticking away in children. There is an urgent need to better understand why this is the case and what can be done about it.
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Posted by Kelly Brewington at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Pediatrics


All of these increasing health problems in children are related to a high sodium intake. Parents should be clearly informed of the importance of protecting children from salt and salty food. Reducing this high salt intake would bring about a noticeable improvement in health and feelings of well-being within days.

This is a safe, drug-free way to improve children's health (and also the health of adults). Why not try it?

I had asthma as a kid as well, and someone told my parents to take me swimming as it`s a good cure, tht`s just me sharing my experience.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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