Study: Children may outgrow chronic conditions

Chronic conditions may be more fluid than the term "chronic" suggests, according to findings from a February JAMA article.

Chronic conditions such as obesity, asthma, diabetes or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to be permanent in adults, but not in children, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Some children manage to rid themselves of chronic diseases, Dr. James Perrin, one of the study's co-authors, said.

The study spoke of "substantial turnover" in chronic conditions. Researchers followed more than 5,000 children with chronic conditions for period of six years at various intervals between 1988 and 2000. By the end of the study, 7.4 percent of participants had a chronic condition that lasted from the beginning of the six-year study to the end. Another 9.3 percent reported conditions at the beginning that resolved within six years. And 13.4 percent saw new conditions arise during the six-year study.

The findings could affect government programs that support children, Perrin told the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He called on programs to place greater emphasis on prevention and intervention, and less on continuity of care for children with what seem to be chronic conditions.

Public programs should help more children recover from their chronic conditions, he added, rather than assume "once disabled, always disabled," a motto that no longer appears to apply to kids.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract from the Journal of the American Medical Association
- read the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation article