Chronic Conditions

Children may have chronic physical or mental health problems, such as asthma or anxiety, which may have an impact on the child’s well-being. The NSCH asked parents whether they had ever been told by a health care provider that their child currently had 1 of 18 specific chronic conditions. These included eight physical health conditions (asthma; diabetes; brain injury or concussion; bone, joint, or muscle problems; cerebral palsy; epilepsy or seizure disorder; hearing problems; and vision problems); eight emotional, behavioral, or developmental conditions (attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; anxiety; autism spectrum disorder; depression; developmental delay; oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder; and Tourette syndrome); speech problems; and learning disabilities.

Overall, 23.7 percent of children were reported to have at least one of these conditions; this percentage did not vary by location, but children in large rural areas were more likely than those in urban or small rural areas to have at least one condition rated as moderate or severe (13.8 versus 11.2 and 11.6 percent, respectively). Children in large rural areas were also more likely to have two or more conditions than those in urban areas (11.2 versus 9.4 percent, respectively), though rates did not vary significantly from those in small rural areas.

With regard to the child’s age, the proportions of children who had at least one chronic condition did not vary across locations. Within each location, however, younger children (aged 0–5) were significantly less likely to have one or more conditions than older children. Among children in small rural areas, for instance, 14.0 percent of 0- to 5-year-olds had at least one condition compared to 27.9 percent of children aged 6–11 years and 30.9 percent of those aged 12–17 years.

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