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January 2013

The Politics of Prevalence

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida.

JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(1):10-11. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.435

What is the state of children's health in the United States? Are we experiencing historically high levels of good health, or are chronic conditions contributing to unprecedented levels of childhood morbidity? These questions are addressed but not completely answered in the latest survey of children with special health care needs (CSHCN), which finds that 15.1% of children in the United States have an ongoing health condition that requires more health services than would be expected for an average child.1,2 Fifteen percent is consistent with similar estimates over the last 20 years, despite variations in methods and specific definitions. But how do we interpret these numbers? Is this level of morbidity a problem to be solved or a cause for celebration?

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