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

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For the study, Maslow's team collected data on 13,236 young adults who took part in the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The researchers compared those with asthma or other chronic illness, such as cancer, diabetes and epilepsy, with people who did not have these conditions.

Among those included in their analysis, 16 percent suffered from asthma and 3 percent had cancer, diabetes or epilepsy.

The researchers found that 81 percent of those who had a chronic condition graduated from high school and 60 percent had jobs.

Yet, those with chronic conditions other than asthma were less likely to graduate high school or ever have a job. They were more likely to receive public assistance, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and SSI/disability insurance, and were also more likely to live at home, Maslow's group found.

"We need to focus on supporting the educational and vocational outcomes of these patients," Maslow said. "With so many more of these patients surviving, we need to promote their overall well-being and help them to thrive as adults," he added.

"We know from day-to-day practice that these kids miss more school, have more difficulty in school and have more difficulty graduating," said Dr. Judith Schaechter, an associate professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

"We know that is related to their chronic illness, because they are absent for hospitalization, doctors' visits or the illness itself," she noted.

In addition, medications can interfere with concentration and make it hard to get work done, added Schaechter, who was not involved with the study.

These children need extra support at home and at school, Schaechter pointed out.

"The message I want to get to parents and schools is: Let's keep our expectations high for children with chronic disease, let's communicate to the kids what our expectat
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