We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Chronic Diseases of Children FREE

Janet M. Torpy, MD, Writer; Annie Campbell, BS, Illustrator Intern; Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2010;303(7):682. doi:10.1001/jama.303.7.682.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Children often have acute, short-term illnesses such as upper respiratory tract or ear infections, gastrointestinal illness with vomiting and diarrhea, or injury-related problems. However, some children develop chronic illness (lasting for years or even lifelong) as a result of genetic (inherited) conditions, environmental factors, or a combination of both. Because prenatal (before birth) exposure to tobacco smoke and alcohol can affect a baby's health, it is important to extend environmental and nutritional concerns to women who may become pregnant. The February 17, 2010, issue of JAMA includes an article about changes in the prevalence of chronic conditions among US children from 1988 through 2006. This Patient Page is based on one previously published in the June 27, 2007, issue of JAMA.


  • Asthma—The number of children with asthma increases each year. Better treatment for asthma reduces the chance of hospitalization, need for emergency treatment, and death due to asthma.

  • Cystic fibrosis—an inherited lung disease for which there is no cure. Early (even prenatal) diagnosis can lead to better treatment for children with cystic fibrosis.

  • Diabetes—Having diabetes (either type 1 or type 2) causes increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, and diabetes-related complications at an early age.

  • Obesity and overweight in children is a major public health problem. More children are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese than ever before. Many children who are overweight maintain their obesity as adults, leading to obesity-related complications such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, some cancers, arthritis, and sleep-disordered breathing.

  • Malnutrition—Poor nutrition leads to anemia (low blood count), inadequate immune system function, and susceptibility to illness and intellectual development problems.

  • Developmental disabilities, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the autism spectrum disorders

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Consequences of low birth weight and prematurity, including chronic lung disease, retinopathy of prematurity (an eye disorder causing low vision or blindness), and developmental delays

  • Mental illnesses—Early diagnosis and treatment are important to decrease effects on development.


  • Ensure early and comprehensive prenatal nutrition and health care.

  • Encourage healthy eating habits beginning at an early age.

  • Incorporate physical activity into daily life when children are young to prevent the sedentary lifestyle associated with obesity.

  • Enable early diagnosis of developmental delays or mental illness to improve access to programs designed to help children with these conditions.

Regular medical care is important for all children to increase the chance that a chronic disease is diagnosed and treated early, lessening the overall impact on the child and family.



To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776.




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Spanish Patient Pages
Supplemental Content

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles

Users' Guides to the Medical Literature: A Manual for Evidence-Based Clinical Practice, 3rd ed
Qualitative Research

Users' Guides to the Medical Literature: A Manual for Evidence-Based Clinical Practice, 3rd ed
Are the results credible?