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Surviving childhood illness takes toll later

Young adults who had cancer, diabetes or epilepsy as children are less likely to achieve the same level of education or employment as their healthy counterparts.

Surviving childhood illness takes toll later

Young adults who had cancer, diabetes or epilepsy as children are less likely to achieve the same level of education or employment as their healthy counterparts.

Improved medical care over the past 40 years has meant more children who suffered from chronic illness are surviving into adulthood. However, they carry the burden of their illness with them years later, often struggling with physical and emotional problems as adults.

Problems include family stress and the toll fighting the disease has on school work and finding a job later. Growing up with an illness can cause the family to be stressed. It's a financial hardship for families and that may make it harder to provide their children with certain opportunities that can be crucial in education and employment.

For people with chronic illness, there are a lot of challenges educationally that are related to missing school and the effect of taking medicine. Unlike the support available in public education for people with learning disabilities, those with chronic illness are not necessarily the ones people are concerned about educationally. Struggling in high school may lead to problems getting and holding onto a job.

Researchers collected data on 13,236 young adults who took part in the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. They compared those with asthma or other chronic illness, such as cancer, diabetes and epilepsy, with people who did not have these conditions. Among those included in the analysis, 16 percent suffered from asthma and 3 percent had cancer, diabetes or epilepsy.

It was found that 81 percent of those who had a chronic condition graduated from high school and 60 percent had jobs. Yet, those with chronic conditions other than asthma were less likely to graduate high school or ever have a job. They were more likely to receive public assistance and were also more likely to live at home.

It is important to focus on providing extra support at home and at school for these children. With so many more of these patients surviving, it is essential to promote their overall well-being and help them to thrive as adults.
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