Study Shows Childhood Health is Deteriorating

The Journal of the American Medical Association released a study on Thursday revealing that more than half of all U.S. children will suffer from chronic health conditions during their childhood. According to the study, childhood health has been rapidly deteriorating over the past two decades. This rapid deterioration could be directly related to high health care costs as well as the increasing costs of health insurance.

Common Chronic Conditions

A chronic health condition is defined as one that lasts from more than 12 months and requires extended treatment or disrupts the child’s ability to carry out behaviors and actions that are typical for the age group. The study pinpointed a few common chronic conditions, including:

  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Diabetes
  • Allergic conditions

The Increase Childhood Chronic Conditions

The study looked at about 5,000 children as they grew from the ages of two to eight years old. The researchersexamined children in three different cohorts: 1988 to 1994, 1994 to 2000 and 2000 to 2006. They found that 12.8 percent of children studied had chronic health conditions in the group ending in 1994.

However, by the end of 2006, the last group had 26.6 percent with chronic conditions. And over the entire six-year period for the last group, a majority (51.5 percent) suffered a chronic health problem.

What Is Causing the Increase?

The study noted that these conditions and the rise in cases are linked to poverty and other environmental factors. Also bad eating habits and reduced exercising in youth have played roles in seeing a deterioration in childhood health.

However, a major issue was that certain children don’t have access to quality medical care due to rising health care costs. Therefore, continuous health care is difficult or impossible to obtain.

They note that with health insurance and access to quality treatment, many of these conditions can go away. So the fact that childhood health is deteriorating is a testament to the lack of a quality health care system in the U.S.

Unfortunately, the researchers say that the current focus of the health care overhaul is to lower costs rather than expanding coverage. As a result, children may continue to suffer for years to come.