Chronic physical illness in childhood: psychological and social effects in adolescence and adult life

Dev Med Child Neurol. 1989 Dec;31(6):746-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.1989.tb04070.x.


A national birth cohort followed for 36 years was used to compare the life chances of individuals with chronic physical illness in childhood with those of controls. The majority of those who had been chronically physically ill in childhood were found to differ very little in social and psychological circumstances by 36 years of age, but earlier in adult life there had been signs of difficulties. However, there was a disturbing tendency for those from lower social-group families to be in significantly worse social and psychological circumstances, and by 36 years they showed signs of relatively poor life chances and of basic social support, including the death of both parents.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / mortality
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Psychology, Adolescent*