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One in six 3-year-olds have a serious longstanding health condition

Boys are 50% more likely than girls to have such conditions.

Image: children via Shutterstock

ONE IN SIX three year olds in Ireland have a serious longstanding health condition according to a report from The Institute of Public Health in Ireland.

IPH Director of Research, Professor Kevin Balanda, said five common serious conditions were reported by carers, including:

“A longstanding illness, condition or disability, diagnosed asthma or asthma symptoms, diagnosed eczema / skin allergy, sight problems that required correction and hearing problems that required correction.

Children with these conditions can have poorer quality of life, poorer social and emotional development, and poorer educational achievement.

The study found that 15.8% of three-year-olds in Ireland – about 11,000 children – have at least one of these conditions.

It established that boys are 50% more likely than girls to have such conditions and children in the lowest socio-economic households are 50% more likely than those in other households to have such a condition.

It also found that children whose primary carer is ill are over 100% more likely than those with well primary carers to have a longstanding condition.

The study says that children born with low birth weight are 70% more likely than other children to have sight problems, while children whose mother smoked during pregnancy are 50% more likely than other children.

Breakdown

IPH Research Analyst Mr Steve Barron set out some of the more detailed findings:

· 9.5% (about 6,600) have diagnosed asthma or asthma symptoms
· 4.0% (about 2,800) have diagnosed eczema/skin allergy
· 5.9% (about 4,100) have ever had a sight problem that required correction
· 3.9% (about 2,700) have ever had a hearing problem that required correction

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The Minister for Health, Dr Leo Varadkar TD, said:

“Helping parents and health professionals to be more familiar with the characteristics that place children at higher risk of longstanding conditions will improve the chances of prevention or early detection and intervention.

“Many of these characteristics can be changed and they offer a focus for policy and service interventions to reduce risk factors and improve the lives of children and their families.”

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