Chronic health conditions and school performance among children and youth

Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Apr;23(4):179-84. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.01.001. Epub 2013 Feb 12.


Purpose: Chronic health conditions are common and increasing among U.S. children and youth. We examined whether chronic health conditions are associated with low school performance.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study of 22,730 children and youth (grades 2-11) in San Jose, California, was conducted from 2007 through 2010. Health conditions were defined as chronic if reported in each of the first 2 years, and school performance was measured using standardized English language arts (ELA) and math assessments.

Results: Chronic health conditions were independently associated with low ELA and math performance, irrespective of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or grade level. Adjusted odds ratios for the association between any chronic health condition and low ("basic or below") performance were 1.25 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16-1.36; P < .001) for ELA and 1.28 (95% CI, 1.18-1.38; P < .001) for math, relative to students without reported health conditions. Further adjustment for absenteeism had little effect on these results. The strongest associations were found for ADHD, autism, and seizure disorders, whereas a weak association was found for asthma before but not after adjusting for absenteeism, and no associations were found for cardiovascular disorders or diabetes.

Conclusions: Chronic neurodevelopmental and seizure disorders, but not cardiovascular disorders or diabetes, were independently associated with low school performance among children and youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Achievement*
  • California
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Education*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Schools
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / psychology*