Rise in Chronic Childhood Health Problems
Study Shows Conditions Such as Obesity and Asthma Are Increasing in Kids
WebMD News Archive
Tracking Childhood Chronic Disease continued...
Chronic conditions increased with each group, with group three having the
highest percent of children with chronic conditions both at the start and end
of the study period.
''For each of those three groups, the rate of having a chronic condition
during the study increased by about 10% for each subsequent group," Van Cleave
The chances of having a chronic condition during any part of the six-year
study was greatest for the third group, with 51.5% of them affected at some
time (and more than half of that 51% having obesity), Van Cleve says. Rates
were higher among boys and Hispanic and black children. Older children were
more likely than younger children to have a chronic health conditions, she
Some children did outgrow the problems, however. When Van Cleave combined
all three groups, she found that 9.3% of the children who had a chronic
condition at the start of the study did not have it at the end. "Chronic
conditions during childhood do not appear to be as permanent as once thought,"
she tells WebMD.
The study was funded and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
the CDC, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Health Resources
The study findings, while not surprising, are of concern, says Geetha
Raghuveer, MD, associate professor of cardiology at the University of
Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and pediatric cardiologist at
Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., who reviewed the study findings
''I was taken away by one comment in the paper that at least one in two
children in the recent [group] had some sort of chronic condition," she says.
"And that's a lot."
"Many of these problems are lifestyle-related," she says, citing the high
percent of obesity found in the children.
The study findings point to the need for parents to pay more attention to
nutrition for their children and to be sure they get enough physical activity,
"Parents can make small changes in their child's diet and see a big
improvement in overall health," she says. "It can be as simple as taking liquid
calories out of your child's diet. That may be all that's necessary to prevent
excess weight gain and all the problems."