The article by Newacheck et al in this issue of AJDC improves our understanding of the epidemiology and prevalence of chronic illness in adolescence and defines some of the physical limitations and behavioral consequences of chronic illness. A striking finding is the apparently high rate of chronic illness in this age group, approaching one in three adolescents aged 10 to 17 years. Data available in this study do not allow determination of the physiological severity of these chronic conditions; however, other studies1,2 suggest that about 10% to 20% of children with chronic illness have severe conditions of the type likely to have a daily impact on the child's life.
Thus, the data presented in the article by Newacheck et al suggest that 3% to 6% of adolescents have severe long-term illnesses, consistent with other work indicating similar rates of health disability among adolescents.3 Of great import is the
PERRIN JM. Adolescents With Chronic Illness. Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(12):1361-1362. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160120029013