Low-Income Kids Have Highest Increase In Chronic Health Problems

Low-Income Kids Have Highest Increase In Chronic Health Problems

The number of American kids suffering from asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on the increase, with poor children being hit the hardest, researchers report.

Children living in extreme poverty who had asthma and ADHD were nearly twice as likely to have at least one other chronic medical condition. These conditions included developmental delays, autism, depression, anxiety, behavioral or conduct issues, speech and language problems, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, and learning disabilities.

"These findings emphasize the importance of studying poverty and its impact on child health, as well as confirm the need for increased awareness to inform child health policy," said lead researcher Dr. Christian Pulcini, a resident at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The reasons for the increase in chronic conditions aren't clear, but access to health care and health literacy may be playing a part, he said. Increases in these conditions also were seen among children who rely on public assistance for their health care, Pulcini added.

"I would like to think it could all be attributed to better identification and diagnosis, but, at least in my experience, there are still many children of families with limited means who have poor access to regular care who may not have their primary or additional health conditions identified correctly," Pulcini said.

According to webmd, Dr. Jefry Biehler, chairman of pediatrics at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, said he wasn't surprised by the findings.

"We continue to see that chronic conditions unevenly affect the poor and the underserved more than the those who are not poor and receive more frequent health care," he said.

"We need to face these issues head on and try to prevent or manage these chronic conditions early on so that outcomes will be much better, both for the individuals and society," he said.

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