Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chronic Conditions In Children Will Pose Future Health And Welfare Challenges

Date:
June 27, 2007
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
The increased incidence of chronic conditions among American children predicts serious strains on health care and social welfare systems in the future, caution investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health.

The increased incidence of chronic conditions among American children predicts serious strains on health care and social welfare systems in the future, caution investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). In a commentary in the June 27 Journal of the American Medical Association -- an issue devoted to pediatric chronic disease -- the authors explain how rates of obesity, asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have increased over the past three decades, review factors that may underlie those increases and examine future implications.

"These new epidemics in chronic health conditions among children and youth will translate into major demands on public health and welfare in upcoming decades," explains James Perrin, MD, of the Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, one of the authors of the report. "Active prevention efforts likely offer the best hope of reversing these trends."

The authors reviewed data from many sources and numerous studies in scientific journals to document their observation that more children have chronic health conditions today. They found that rates of obesity in children and adolescents have more than tripled -- from 5 percent in the 1970s to 18 percent today. The incidence of asthma has more than doubled to almost 9 percent, and the diagnosis of ADHD has also increased in past decades to include about 6 percent of school aged children. Overall, from 15 to 18 percent of children and adolescents have some sort of chronic health condition, nearly half of whom could be considered disabled.

While all three of these disorders probably have some genetic basis, the most probable explanation for the recent steep increases is rapid change in social and environmental factors. These include modern stresses on parents that reduce the time and energy they can devote to their children; increased time children spend watching television or in other indoor sedentary activities; reduced opportunities for physical activity; and dietary changes that include more fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages, and overall increases in calorie consumption.

"The food, physical activity and media environments of children have changed dramatically in recent decades, and primary prevention efforts can begin by working to improve those environments," says study co-author Steven Gortmaker, PhD, of the HSPH Department of Society, Human Development, and Health. "We know that major health conditions continue into adulthood; so if these trends continue, we will see increased health care costs and decreased quality of life, as many of these young people find their opportunities limited." He is a professor of the Practice of Health Sociology at HSPH, and Perrin is a professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

The authors -- also including Sheila Bloom, MS, of MGH -- list potential outcomes if the current trends continue. Obesity is known to increase incidence of type 2 diabetes, already being seen in young people, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Asthma persists into adulthood in at least 25 percent of children, many of whom will risk disability. ADHD is also known to continue into adulthood at least half the time, putting affected individuals at increased risk of other mental health problems and potentially limiting educational and employment success.

In their summary, the authors note that current health and welfare programs are unprepared for the demands presented by this situation. Planning for increased expenditures to meet these needs will be critical, and further investigation of factors underlying these conditions and the implementation of preventive strategies will be essential.

The authors' work was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Chronic Conditions In Children Will Pose Future Health And Welfare Challenges." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070626115359.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2007, June 27). Chronic Conditions In Children Will Pose Future Health And Welfare Challenges. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070626115359.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Chronic Conditions In Children Will Pose Future Health And Welfare Challenges." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070626115359.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins