Percentage of US children who have chronic health conditions on the rise

BALTIMORE, MD – The percentage of children with chronic health conditions is on the rise, and new research being presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting shows this is especially true among children who live in or near poverty.

Researchers presenting the study abstract, "National Trends in Prevalence and Co-morbid Chronic Conditions among Children with Asthma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," looked at data from the National Survey of Children's Health data for 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2012 to spot trends surrounding these conditions by sociodemographic characteristics in the United States.

The study found more significant increases in asthma and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among children living in poverty, as compared to their wealthier counterparts. Poor children with these conditions also were more likely to have two or more additional diseases. Those living in extreme poverty who had asthma and ADHD, for example, were roughly twice as likely to have at least one other chronic medical condition. Some of the more common co-existing conditions included developmental delays, autism, depression or anxiety, behavioral or conduct issues, speech and language problems, epilepsy/seizure disorders and learning disabilities. Among children who had public health insurance, significant increases were seen among all the chronic diseases studied.

Lead author Christian D. Pulcini, MD, MEd, MPH, said the findings highlight the importance of studying poverty and its impact on children's health. "Especially with the recent release of the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines suggesting poverty screening as an essential component at every child health visit, we need to be aware that poor children already at greater risk for common childhood illnesses such as asthma, ADHD and autism often face even more medical conditions on top of these."


Dr. Pulcini will present the abstract, "National Trends in Prevalence and C-morbid Chronic Conditions among Children with Asthma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," on Sunday, May 1, at 5:45 p.m. in Exhibit Hall F of the Baltimore Convention Center. To view the abstract, visit

Please note: only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have more data available to share with media, or may be preparing a longer article for submission to a journal. Contact the researcher for more information.

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting brings together thousands of individuals united by a common mission: to improve child health and wellbeing worldwide. This international gathering includes pediatric researchers, leaders in academic pediatrics, experts in child health, and practitioners. The PAS Meeting is produced through a partnership of four organizations leading the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy: Academic Pediatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society, and Society for Pediatric Research. For more information, visit the PAS Meeting online at, follow us on Twitter @PASMeeting and #PASMeeting, or like us on Facebook.

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