Emotional, developmental and behavioural co-morbidities of children with chronic health conditions

J Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Oct;47(10):742-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2011.02044.x. Epub 2011 Mar 30.


Aim: This study estimated and compared rates of emotional, developmental and behavioural (EDB) problems among children with chronic health conditions.

Methods: Rates of EDB problems were estimated using data from the 2005-2007 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. The National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) 2003 was used to provide national estimates as referent values.

Results: The overall rate of EDB problems for children with chronic health conditions was 15%, about three times the rate for children in the general US population. The rate of attention deficit disorder/attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder was 18%, over twice that for children in the general population. Children with migraine or other types of recurrent headaches had the highest rate of EDB problems (47%), about nine times the rate for the NSCH sample; those with arthritis or other joint problems had nearly 30%, about five times the rate for the NSCH.

Conclusions: Chronic health conditions are associated with high rates of EDB problems. Children with recurrent headaches and arthritis have particularly high rates, possibly related to pain associated with these conditions. Chronic health condition management programmes should address both medical treatment as well as EDB co-morbid problems through a multidimensional approach to care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Stress, Psychological