Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. HC 2.4 Chronic Health Conditions

01/01/2000

Chronic health problems can cause children to miss school and often require medical assistance and follow-up. Chronic conditions can also create stress for children and their parents, cause parents to miss work, and increase a family’s medical expenses.

Over the period from 1984 to 1996, respiratory conditions were the most prevalent chronic health problems experienced by children under age 17 (see Table HC 2.4). The incidence of asthma and chronic sinusitis increased between 1984 and 1995 but decreased in 1996. Chronic sinusitis affected 47 children per thousand in 1984, 76 per thousand in 1995, and 64 per thousand in 1996. Meanwhile, asthma affected 43 children per thousand in 1984, compared with 75 per thousand in 1995 and 62 per thousand in 1996. Asthma attacks, which involve episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing, can range from mild to life-threatening, and children with asthma miss an average of twice as many school days as children without asthma.28 The prevalence rate for asthma increased between 1980 and 1994 for all race groups, both sexes, and all age groups, with the most substantial increase among children under age 4 (a 160 percent increase) and ages 5 to 14 (a 74 percent increase).29

Between 1984 and 1996, the number of children suffering from chronic diseases of the tonsils or adenoids (34 and 20 per thousand in 1984 and 1996, respectively), hearing impairments (24 and 13), and anemia (11 and 5) decreased (see Table HC 2.4).

Table HC 2.4 Selected chronic health conditionsa for children under age 18 (rate per 1,000 children) in the United States: Selected years, 1984-1996

  Rate per 1,000
1984 1987 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996
Respiratory conditions
Hay fever, allergic rhinitis without asthma 61 64 57 71 57 61 66 59
Chronic bronchitis 50 62 53 54 59 55 54 57
Chronic sinusitis 47 58 57 69 80 65 76 64
Asthma 43 53 58 63 72 69 75 62
Chronic diseases of tonsils or adenoids 34 30 23 28 26 23 19 20
Skin conditions
Dermatitis 39 32 31 41 36 38 35 31
Serious acne 26 26 26 25 28 29 26 24
Impairments
Deformity or orthopedic impairment 35 36 29 33 29 28 30 26
Speech impairment 16 19 14 21 20 21 18 16
Hearing impairment 24 16 21 15 17 18 15 13
Visual impairment 9 10 9 10 7 9 7 6
Other conditions
Heart disease 23 22 19 19 20 18 19 24
Migraine headache 11 8 14 13 13 16 13 15
Anemia 11 8 10 11 9 12 7 5
Epilepsy 7 4 4 3 5 5 4 5

a Chronic health conditions as defined in the National Health Interview Survey are conditions that either (a) were first noticed 3 months or more before the reference date of the interview; or (b) belong to a group of conditions (including heart diseases, diabetes, and others) that are considered chronic regardless of when they began. The prevalence estimates are based on reports by parents or other adult respondents in response to checklists administered in household interviews.

Sources: Unpublished data from the National Health Interview Survey, National Center for Health Statistics; Benson, & Marono, 1996, tables 57 and 62; also previous issues of this report [Series 10, 156, 166, 181, 189, 190, and 193 (Tables 57 and 62 in each)].


Figure HC 2.4 Selected chronic health conditionsa for children under age 18 (rate per 1,000 children) in the United States: 1996

Figure HC 2.4 Selected chronic health conditionsa for children under age 18 (rate per 1,000 children) in the United States: 1996a Chronic health conditions as defined in the National Health Interview Survey are conditions that either (a) were first noticed 3 months or more before the reference date of the interview; or (b) belong to a group of conditions (including heart diseases, diabetes, and others) that are considered chronic regardless of when they began. The prevalence estimates are based on reports by parents or other adult respondents in response to checklists administered in household interviews.

Source: Unpublished data from the National Health Interview Survey, National Center for Health Statistics.


28 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Press Office. May 21, 1998. HHS Targets Efforts on Asthma. Fact Sheet. Available online at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/1998.html.

29 Mannino, D.M., Homa, D.M., Pertowski, C.A., Ashizawa, A, Nixon, L.L., Johnson, C.A., et al., 1998. Surveillance for Asthma: United States, 1960-1995. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 47 (SS-1): 1-28.

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