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Kids and Chronic Health Concerns

From obesity to asthma, chronic health problems are growing amongst children.

Fri, 16 Nov 2012|

-I was at school and my face started to change different colors. My lips started to get bigger. My lungs started to close up. I was scared. Am I gonna die? Am-- What-- What's happening? I was in the emergency room and that's the first time I got diagnosed with asthma. -So, you gotta take a deep breath and blow as hard as you can on this. -We'll see what we call health care disparities. A child like Aubrey who comes from a less privileged environment, she will have worst medical outcomes than a child who is more privileged who lives in a wealthier environment. They can't find a safe place to exercise. They don't feel safe walking to school. They don't know where to shop where they can afford healthy food. I like to think of the community as potentially being a health-enhancing community versus a community that really doesn't allow our-- our patients to be healthy. -16% of children have chronic conditions. With obesity, then you're up to at least a third. When we start to really look at the mental and developmental conditions, I think it's more like 40% of children. -There's a clear correlation between how healthy a child is and how they can perform in school. Children that are suffering from chronic disease do not do as well in school. -My grades did go down a lot. Last year, I probably missed 15 to 20 days of school, but my teachers just tell me that that's an excuse, so I guess I just have to live with it. -We have enough data to know that when we do a really good job with children in the first 3 years of life, the whole arc of their life changes. If they get to kindergarten and they're not able to be successful because we didn't prepare them, their life doesn't go well. They have very high rates of dropping out of high school, being incarcerated. Everything that every parent would shudder to think of could happen to their child happens to these children because we're not investing enough money in the first 2 to 3 years of life. -We understand how to do this. We understand how to build that scaffolding, but we're not doing it. -We're trying to develop a model of a health-enhancing community. Medical care is no longer doctor led. It is community led and patient led. How do we start to communicate better? Talk to teachers, talk to social workers, not doctor telling patient, but together collaboratively with the care team and then when they go out in where they actually live. They're entering a community that has already prepared itself to help that patient thrive. -The clinic helped me a lot to understand how to deal with it. I just take my inhalers and I stand up and just relax. It's just normal now. That's my life. -With the experience that a critical number of leaders in this country now have, the U.S. can actually have the best health care system in the world within 10 years.