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Chronic Illness and the State of Our Children’s Health

father holding sick son

… chronic illnesses are also responsible for 7 in 10 American deaths—twice as many deaths as all infectious/communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, combined—and they account for 78 cents of every health care dollar spent.

A nation is only as healthy as its children.
— Harry Truman (1946)

Approximately 27 percent of U.S. children live with chronic health conditions that can affect their daily lives and normal activities. These maladies often contribute greatly to school absenteeism and require continual medical attention.

Many studies suggest chronic health problems, along with learning and developmental disorders, appear to be on the rise. These rising childhood illnesses include, but are not limited to:

  • Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Auto-immune disorders
  • Developmental/Learning Disorders
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Food allergies
  • Obesity
  • Respiratory allergies
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Spina bifida

The Vulnerable Child—Chronic Illness in U.S. Children

The number of children in the United States with chronic health conditions has dramatically increased in the past four decades, doubling from 12.8 percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006.

  • One in 10 children has asthma.1
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in children. More than 15,000 children were diagnosed in 2014.2
  • Food allergies affect one in every 13 children.3
  • Heart disease is the fifth leading cause of death in 1-5 year olds.4
  • ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder and affects one in 10 children.5
  • Juvenile diabetes increased 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.6
  • One in six children has a developmental disability.7
  • One in 68 children are affected by autism.8
  • Epilepsy/seizures affects one in 20 children.9
  • 33 percent of childhood diseases are caused by environmental exposure.10

On a larger public health scale, chronic illnesses are also responsible for 7 in 10 American deaths—twice as many deaths as all infectious/communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, combined—and they account for 78 cents of every health care dollar spent.11

Why are today’s children sicker than ever before?

“While genes may play a role in obesity, asthma and ADHD, environmental and social changes are behind the surge,” researchers said.12

In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a comprehensive study that suggests more than 33 percent of diseases affecting children under the age of five are caused by environmental exposures, and that by preventing these exposures, as many as four million children’s lives a year worldwide could be saved.13

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis—are among the most common, costly and preventable of all health problems.14 

The Price We Pay for Chronic Illness Unfortunately, the state of health among U.S. children does not reflect the standard of health expected for a child living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. According to a 2010 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic illnesses in children doubled from 12.8 percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006, with low-income, racial and ethnic minority children being disproportionately affected.15

This disturbing and costly trend would appear to confirm another earlier Harvard study that found U.S. children were sicker today than their parent’s generation.12

The number of children with chronic illnesses has quadrupled since the time when some of their parents were kids, portending more disability and higher health costs for a new generation of adults.

Doctors and public health officials should be bracing for a wave of chronically ill young adults with weight-related ailments that include diabetes and heart disease.

As a nation of enormous wealth and prosperity, we have made great strides in controlling infectious diseases. However, the U.S. now must direct resources toward preventing and controlling chronic illnesses in our children.

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention, education, and investing in the health of all children would help prevent the exacerbation of many illnesses, and alleviate the epidemic of chronic disease that currently exists.

Change is possible. Change is necessary!

Steps to a Healthier Child

Health experts agree there is an urgent need to implement targeted interventions aimed at preventing chronic childhood illnesses.


This article was reprinted with permission. It was originally published by Focus for Health.

References:

1 Journal of the American Medical Association. Dynamics of Obesity and Chronic Health Conditions Among Children and Youth. 2010.
2 National Cancer Institute. Cancer in Children and Adolescents.
3 Food Allergy Research & Education. Facts and Statistics.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2012.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
6 The JAMA Network. Prevalence of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Among Children and Adolescents From 2001 to 2009,
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key Findings: Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U. S. Children, 1997–2008.
8 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
9 National Academy of Sciences. The Public Health Dimensions of the Epilepsies.
10 World Health Organization. Almost a quarter of all disease caused by environmental exposure. June 16, 2006.
11 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Chronic Diseases of Youths and Access to Health Care in the United States. 2013.
12 Zimm A. Children Sicker Now Than in Past, Harvard Report Says. 2007.
13 World Health Organization. Preventing disease through healthy environments. Towards an estimate of the environmental burden of disease. 2006.
14 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Diseases: The Leading Causes of Death and Disability in the United States.
15
Journal of the American Medical Association. Dynamics of Obesity and Chronic Health Conditions Among Children and Youth. 2010.

7 Responses to Chronic Illness and the State of Our Children’s Health

  1. cyndi Reply

    November 1, 2016 at 11:58 am

    My daughter received one of the Guardasil shots at her 2015 physical. I never took her for the rest because she was never well enough. She has been sick ever since but we really don’t have one diagnosis. She has low blood pressure that causes her to pass out. She has migraines and headaches. She has constant nausea..so much so that she has lost 16 lbs in the last year. I have been doing so much research in this last year. Her pediatrician says they have not had any kids have any reactions to the vaccine. My daughter is so sick that she is doing virtual school through her school district because she cannot attend school. Our lives have been turned upside down. The thing is, her list of symptoms are not considered effects of the vaccine. Not sure where to go from here.

    • Cynthia Reply

      November 4, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      Cyndi,

      File a report w/ VAERS. Get maker & lot # from pediatrician’s office. This is your right they should just give you what you need. She is & does have the same things going on with her that other teens have experienced & it’s well documented.

      Lastly, your doctor is an idiot! LOL Not all kids will have a bad reaction, she obviously is. You have a statute of limitations on getting into the Vaccine Court.

      Hope this helps:) Praying for her.

  2. Dr. Michellr Brannick Reply

    October 31, 2016 at 6:35 am

    I have raised 2 children from birth to adulthood whom have never been vaccinated, never had a prescription drug, never had an antibiotic, nor a OTC medication. Raised completely on natural medicine, good nutrition and breastfed for 2.5 years. Their bodies were allowed to development normally and naturally like nature intended. Their health and bodies were not compromised by unnecessary medical interventions.
    My children were rarely ill in childhood and when they were ill their bodies were so strong that it resolved any illness quickly and effectively including childhood illness that everyone is so fearful of getting! Big Pharma made no money on my KIDS!
    My children see the difference in their peers being sick all the time and taking all kinds of medications. They are grateful that we protecting their health.

    I am a Naturopathic Physician and very grateful for my education; they can mandate all this medical intervention but they can not take away my knowledge on how to support the body to heal. Parents need to start taking their children to doctors who know how to heal the body instead of suppress it with harmful drugs and long term side effects. It all starts with the first antibiotic then spirals out of control to more and more toxic drugs. I see children health histories as a downward spiral with something that could have been taken care of so easily by natural medicine!

    Dr. Brannick ND, DC

  3. Lester K Reply

    October 30, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    You write “…. in the past four decades, doubling from 12.8 percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006.”
    That is not four decades, that is 22 years or ONE generation! Will it double for the next generation?

  4. Julia Hill Reply

    October 30, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Tim Caine, former governor of Virginia, made a sweet deal with Merck, maker of Gardasil and somehow he got the VP nomination. Gardasil vaccination which has been made illegal in several other countries, he signed to be mandatory in VA. With Tim and Hillary in the pockets of Big Pharma, the 24+ CDC approved vaccines for adults should have no trouble getting mandated so not only our children, but we too will be given vaccinations laden with corrupted DNA, vile chemicals, monkey viruses, etc. Your vote counts on November 8! Your presence on Nov 9th at the General Assembly building is also vital (pertinent to life).

  5. James Cook Reply

    October 30, 2016 at 10:15 am

    What d’ya think, could VACCINES be a major cause, along with GMOs, chemical pollution, and total degradation of the food supply?

  6. Barbara Bason Reply

    October 30, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Read Dr Isaac Golden’s website about his many year long large base study comparing vaccinated children, unvaccinated children and children using Homeoprophylaxis. He found that in the areas of chronic illness, all of which were in the above list, children were significantly healthier. Homeoprophylaxis educates the immune system toward infectious disease and generally significantly improved the health and resiliency of the child. Golden is an Australian homeopath, PhD.

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