Why Would There Be No Male Biological Clock?
Why are American young sicker than our parents?
Chronic Conditions in Children Will Pose Future Health and Welfare Challenges
Investigators describe probable causes, forecast impact on health, welfare system
For immediate release: Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Boston - 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.
But the study in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association documents a grim prognosis for the next generation of workers: they are going to be fatter, more asthmatic, and suffering from far more neurological disorders than any previous generation of American young people. And its young people who are most likely to go without health care coverage.
“We’re going to see increased health expenditures for people in their 20s,” said James Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School and lead author of the report. “They’ll be coming to institutions for health care without any means of paying for it.”