How Can Chronic Illness Affect Physical Development In Children?


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Ian John Profile
Ian John answered
Chronic illness can affect the physical development of children in many ways, although the extent and severity of this is still open to much conjecture. How these affects manifest themselves and the severity of them, depends very much on the type of chronic illness(es) experienced by the child and the severity of them.

  • Common childhood chronic illnesses
Some of the more common chronic illnesses experienced in childhood are listed below, although this list is by no means exhaustive and does not include any psychological chronic ailments (such as Asperger's syndrome or autism)

- Asthma
- Diabetes
- Cerebral palsy
- Sickle cell anemia
- Epilepsy
- Spina bifida
- Cancer
- Congenital heart defects and problems
- Cystic fibrosis

  • What are  the common physical effects of such illnesses upon the child?
Again, with the proviso that each child is individual and the type, duration and severity of the illness experienced will produce differing results from individual to individual. It is because of this that medical professionals have been loathe to attribute specific lower than average physical development in children down to certain conditions, although evidence is emerging that this may be the case.

For example, a recent study published in the UK revealed that there seems to be a correlation between children suffering with chronic asthma and height, with children who suffer from the condition generally being around 1cm shorter than their peers who do not suffer.

  • Supposition and general observations without substantiation
Part of the problem in asking how chronic illness affects physical development in children, is that children each develop physically individually and there is no clear indication in many that any increase or decrease in physical development, is purely down to their illness.

This has led to the unfortunate situation of less than expert people suggesting that children will suffer physical development problems if they have a certain illness, when there is no accepted evidence for this.

As we are not a recognized health authority on these matters, we advise any parent or carer who has questions about this topic to seek expert advice from their doctor or suitably qualified medical professional.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
That really depends on the illness.
However if the illness is one that requires long hospital stays or limits physical activity, it may cause a lack of fitness in the child.

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