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Chronic Illness

Chronic illnesses among children traditionally have been defined based on a specific diagnosis. More recently, chronic conditions are being defined along several dimensions: they have a biological, psychological, or cognitive basis; have lasted or are likely to last at least one year; and result in limitations of function, activities, or social roles, and/or dependence on medications, special diets, medical technology, assistive devices, or personal assistance to compensate for functional limitations, and/or require medical care or related services. The impact of childhood chronic health conditions on the child and the family vary, even among children with the same diagnosis, depending for example, on age of onset, whether the condition is stable, whether it affects a child's ability to participate in normal childhood activities, whether normal life expectancy is threatened. Major conditions—asthma, spina bifida, craniofacial anomalies, congenital heart disease, and sickle cell anemia— require diverse medical, allied health, educational, and supportive interventions.


Perrin, James. "Introduction." In Nicholas Hobbs and James Perrin eds., Issues in the Care of Children with Chronic Illness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1985.

Stein, Ruth, Laurie Bauman, Lauren Westbrook, Susan Coupey, and Henry Ireys. "Framework for Identifying Children Who Have Chronic Conditions: The Case for a New Definition." The Journal of Pediatrics 122, no. 3 (1993):342-347.

Anita Farel

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 2