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Surviving Serious Childhood Illness Takes Toll Later: Study
Date:3/7/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults who had cancer, diabetes or epilepsy as children are less likely to achieve the same level of education or employment as their healthy counterparts, researchers report.

Improved medical care over the past 40 years has meant more children who suffered from chronic illness are surviving into adulthood. However, they carry the burden of their illness with them years later, often struggling with physical and emotional problems as adults, the study authors explained.

"The majority are successful, but they are at a greater risk of being unemployed, not completing their education and receiving financial assistance," said lead researcher Dr. Gary R. Maslow, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The reasons for these problems are varied and complex. More effort is needed to help these survivors cope with the problems they face as a result of having been so seriously ill, he said.

Problems, according to Maslow, include family stress and the toll fighting the disease has on school work and finding a job later.

Growing up with an illness can cause the family to be stressed, he said. "It's a financial hardship for families and that may make it harder to provide their kids with certain opportunities that can be crucial in education and employment," he noted.

"For people with chronic illness, there are a lot of challenges educationally that are related to missing school and the effect of taking medicine," he said. Unlike the support available in public education for people with learning disabilities, those with chronic illness are not necessarily the ones people are concerned about educationally, he added.

Struggling in high school may lead to problems getting and holding onto a job, Maslow said.

The report is published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medici
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