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

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2 Contemporary child health conditions

Health conditions tend to be put into categories under an umbrella term which largely link back to the cause or origin of the condition. Figure 1 illustrates the contemporary health issues that are affecting babies and children.

A graphic featuring a set of circles containing text. The circle in the middle contains the text ‘contemporary child health issues’. The circles going around this centre circle have the following text: ‘genetic conditions and complex medical conditions’, ‘communicable and infectious diseases’, ‘mental health and wellbeing’, ‘nutrition and oral health’, ‘chronic health conditions’.
Figure 1 Summary of contemporary child health issues

Table 1 gives further detail to the umbrella terms given to the description of contemporary child health issues. The table includes examples of the health conditions and a comment about the conditions.

Table 1 Examples of health conditions affecting babies and children
Child health issue Examples of conditions and/or causes of conditions Comment

Genetic conditions and complex medical conditions

Poor ante-natal health care, inherited conditions; birth trauma

Many babies survive pregnancy and childbirth but may have complex medical needs and/or disabilities.

Communicable and infectious diseases

Viruses and bacteria

Parasites and infestations

Many communicable diseases are avoidable by immunisation and infection control measures.

Parasites and infestations can cause minor or more severe effects. The spread can be reduced or prevented with good hygiene measures.

Mental health and wellbeing

Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder It is estimated that there has been a 5-fold increase in mental health problems since 1998.

Nutrition and oral health

Inadequate nutrition


Poor oral health

Malnutrition and inadequate nutrition are global problems causing a variety of health conditions.

Increased levels of obesity are a global problem. Deprived boys are most likely to be obese.

Largely preventable. Extraction of decayed teeth is a significant cause of hospital admission.

Chronic health conditions

Asthma, diabetes mellitus, eczema, sickle cell disease

Chronic health conditions can be managed with correct treatment, but can still be a cause of child mortality.

Health conditions can vary in their impact on children. For example, a child may have a condition that is genetically inherited, and the impact of the health condition on the child may be minimal. On the other hand, there are genetic conditions that can result in the child living with a range of complex medical needs.

It is also important to bear in mind that children may have several health conditions, although the impact on children can vary, which is why each child should be regarded as unique.