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ADHD, asthma rates significantly higher among impoverished children.

An American study shows 'ADHD, asthma rates significantly higher among impoverished children'. Is this likely to be any different in Ireland?

Parent-reported lifetime prevalence and co-morbidity of asthma, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder in children were differentially influenced by poverty status, according to recent study findings. “The well-established relationship between childhood poverty and greater risk for chronic conditions may place children living in low-income families in double jeopardy for greater need of care and poorer access to care,” Christian D. Pulcini, MD, Med, MPH, and colleagues wrote. “This rise in disease risk is coupled with an overall increase in childhood poverty within this time period.”

To describe the percent increases in both prevalence and co-morbidity of the three conditions and how poverty affects the increases, the researchers examined to what extent poverty acts as a predictor in “higher than average co-morbid conditions.” They began by conducting secondary analyses of the National Survey of Children’s Health taken in 2003, 2007 and 2011-2012. Information collected from the surveys were used to identify trends in parent-reported lifetime prevalence and co-morbidity and to examine the differences between varying socio-demographic characteristics, poverty status and insurance coverage.

Regarding the 2011-2012 data, multivariable regression was used to determine if a family’s poverty status could predict higher than average co-morbid conditions after modifying for other socio-demographic conditions. Results of the study showed that parent-reported lifetime prevalence for asthma rose 18%, whereas ADHD rose 44%. The lifetime prevalence for ASD rose nearly 400% for those who participated in the survey. The most noticeable increase in poor families was seen with asthma, landing at 25.8%. Percentages for poverty status and ADHD were similar; however, autism’s percentage rise was associated with higher financial resources. In addition to these increases, percentages demonstrated that publicly insured children were 1.9 times (asthma), 1.6 times (ADHD) and 3.0 times (ASD) more likely to have higher than average co-morbidities. “Although we could not discern the causal and temporal nature of the relationship to poverty to chronic medical conditions and co-morbidities, it has been well established that having a family member with a disability increases one’s likelihood of being poor,” researchers wrote.

“Potential reasons for this include out-of-pocket health care expenses and time away from work due to caretaking. These associations have important implications on health care utilization and cost for children and families in poverty and suggest that many families are struggling financially to care for their children with chronic medical conditions.” - by Katherine Bortz