Journal Issue: U.S. Health Care for Children Volume 2 Number 2 Winter 1992
This paper reviews evidence concerning the state of health of the nation's children and youth. Although the major causes of death in this population are related to injuries, the most common abnormalities on physical examination involve the ear, the teeth, and the skin. Findings from household interview surveys and from visits to physicians indicate that upper respiratory infections and influenza, ear infections, and allergies are the most common health problems among children and youth. Chronic physical illness and mental health problems are present in 10% to 20% of this population, although these types of conditions are not readily apparent in routinely collected data. Newer conceptualizations of health suggest that, rather than being distributed independently, multiple health problems coexist in individual children and that characteristics of ill health tend to persist over time in these children. These findings indicate the need for health policies that place priority on primary care which provides a source of continuous, comprehensive, and coordinated services over time, and for health status measures that reflect not only the incidence and prevalence of specific health problems but also their interrelationships and the variety of functional impairments associated with them.