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June 27, 2007

The Increase of Childhood Chronic Conditions in the United States

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, MassGeneral Hospital for Children (Dr Perrin and Ms Bloom); Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School (Dr Perrin); and Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health (Dr Gortmaker), Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 2007;297(24):2755-2759. doi:10.1001/jama.297.24.2755

The number of children and youth in the United States with chronic health conditions (a health condition that lasts ≥12 months or at time of diagnosis is likely to have a duration of ≥12 months) has increased dramatically in the past 4 decades. The increased prevalence of chronic conditions has greatly changed the face of child health and the types of conditions observed by child health care professionals. Several measures of chronic health conditions and disability in children and youth exist. The Social Security Administration requires a fairly high level of disability for eligibility for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program (approximately 1%-2% of US children and youth meet these diagnostic criteria).1 A more common test has been whether the child has a health condition that limits usual daily activities, the criterion used by the National Health Interview Survey that currently identifies approximately 7% of US children.2

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