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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994 Nov;148(11):1143-9.

Poverty and childhood chronic illness.

Author information

Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California-San Francisco.



To present national estimates of the prevalence and impact of chronic conditions for children from poor and nonpoor families by using data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey.


Proxy responses to a checklist of child health conditions administered for 17,110 children younger than 18 years were used. Conditions were classified as chronic if they were first noticed more than 3 months before the interview or if they were the type that would ordinarily be of extended duration, such as arthritis.


While nonpoor families were more likely than poor families to report chronic conditions for their children, children from poor families exhibited a higher risk of experiencing severe chronic conditions. Children with chronic conditions from poor families also experienced substantial barriers to care; they were 118% more likely to be uninsured than were children from nonpoor families and 42% more likely to lack a usual source of care. Children with chronic conditions from poor families were found to use fewer ambulatory care services but more inpatient hospital care than their nonpoor counterparts.


Children from poor families experience chronic health problems that are inadequately addressed by our existing health care system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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