Over the last decades, there have been great advances in health care delivered to children with chronic conditions, but not all children have benefitted equally from them.
To describe health inequities experienced by children with chronic health conditions.
We performed a literature review of English-language studies identified from the Medline, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute, and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Web sites that were published between January 1985 and May 2009, included children aged 0 to 18 years, and contained the key words “incidence,” “prevalence,” “survival,” “mortality,” or “disparity” in the title or abstract for the following health conditions: acute leukemia, asthma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus, Down syndrome, HIV/AIDS, major congenital heart defects, major depressive disorder, sickle cell anemia, spina bifida, and traumatic brain injury.
Black children had higher rates of cerebral palsy and HIV/AIDS, were less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, had more emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and had higher mortality rates associated with asthma; and survived less often with Down syndrome, type 1 diabetes, and traumatic brain injury when compared with white children. Hispanic children had higher rates of spina bifida from Mexico-born mothers, had higher rates of HIV/AIDS and depression, were less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, had poorer glycemic control with type 1 diabetes, and survived less often with acute leukemia compared with white children.
Serious racial and ethnic health and health care inequities persist for children with chronic health conditions.