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Mutat Res. 2006 Sep 28;608(2):100-11. Epub 2006 Jul 18.

Trends in childhood disease.

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1
BASF Aktiengesellschaft, GOA/CP-H308, D-67056 Ludwigshafen, Germany. dirk.pallapies@basf.com

Abstract

Child mortality has declined remarkably during the last decades. While neonatal disorders, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and malaria as well as being underweight account for most of the child deaths worldwide, children's health discussions in Europe and the USA focus on other issues such as asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders, male genital malformations, and childhood cancer. There is clear evidence of increasing rates of asthma in various countries during the last decades, although rates in some countries may now have stabilised or even decline as recent UK data indicate. Although an increase in the frequency of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit disorder has frequently been discussed, the limited data in this field does not justify such a conclusion. While geographic heterogeneity regarding reproductive outcomes is apparent, global trends have not been identified. Interpretation of the available information on asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders and reproductive outcomes is hampered by inconstant diagnostic criteria over place and time and the lack of good and comprehensive population-based surveillance data, which makes it impossible to ascertain trends in actual disease frequency. Data indicate that developed countries have a gradually increasing incidence in leukaemia with a corresponding drop in the incidence of lymphoma. Increases in brain tumour frequency may be related to the development and wide application of new diagnostic capabilities, rather than a true change in the incidence of malignant disease. With a better prognosis for childhood cancer survival, secondary cancers following chemotherapy appear to be increasing. A wide range of environmental factors is thought to have an impact on children's health. These factors include nutrition (protein, vitamins, antioxidants), lifestyle and behaviour choices such as tobacco and alcohol use, parental health, socio-economic status, choice of living environment (urban versus rural, etc.), and parent-sibling behaviour. From the available data, no general conclusions on the contribution of specific chemicals can be drawn.

PMID:
16854614
DOI:
10.1016/j.mrgentox.2006.03.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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