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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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10 Chronic health conditions

Ongoing, or chronic, health conditions affect as many as 27 per cent of children (Wijlaars, Gilbert and Hardelid, 2016). To illustrate this point, in a class of 30 children, on average 9 children will have a chronic health condition. The most common chronic health conditions affecting children in high-income countries include asthma, eczema, diabetes, epilepsy and sickle cell anaemia. It is not unusual for children to have a combination of chronic conditions. For example, asthma, eczema and allergy are all conditions that frequently affect children.

As already mentioned, children with chronic health conditions can be more vulnerable to the preventable health conditions that have been considered in this session. Consequently, there is even more of an imperative to ensure that we are doing what we can to minimise the effects.

Although health conditions are often separated into those that affect physical or mental health, in reality, a physical health condition can impact on mental health too, and this is the focus of the next section.