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Study: Poverty's Influence on the Rising Prevalence of Asthma, ADHD and ASD

A Pediatrics study examines the impact that poverty status had on prevalence of three common chronic medical conditions reported by parents: asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study, "Poverty and Trends in Three Common Chronic Disorders," to be published in the March 2017 issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 13) analyzed data obtained by the National Survey of Children's Health for the years 2003, 2007 and 2011-12. Within the study's time period, the lifetime prevalence of asthma rose 18 percent; the lifetime prevalence of ADHD rose by 44 percent; and the lifetime rise in ASD rose nearly 400 percent. Researchers found that, for children with asthma, the rise was most prominent among the poor, at nearly 26 percent.  The percent change by poverty status for ADHD was similar, while the rise in ASD was not associated with poverty status. The authors found that children with asthma and ADHD from impoverished households were more likely to have two or more additional chronic medical conditions. The authors conclude that more research is needed to examine poverty's variable impact on children with and without chronic health conditions. A version of this article was presented as an abstract at the 2016 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

*Editor's note: Also in this issue is an accompanying commentary by Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP, immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, titled, "Congress Should Adopt a 'Do No Harm to Children' Standard in Changes to Public Health Insurance."


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

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