US Pharm. 2011;36(3):2.

The 2001–2007 National Health Interview Survey found that 48% of children aged up to 17 years who lived in nuclear families were less likely than those in nonnuclear families to have asthma, hay fever, learning disabilities (LDs), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children living in nonnuclear families were more likely to delay getting prescription medication (because of cost concerns) and to visit an emergency room (ER) two or more times in a year. Chronic conditions existed in 17.2% of children (12.6 million). According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 57% of non-Hispanic white children lived in nuclear families, versus 21% of non-Hispanic black children and 41% of Hispanic children.

Specific Health Conditions

Nine million children (12.7%) had asthma, 7.2 million (9.9%) had hay fever, 8.4 million (11.6%) had respiratory allergies, and 8.8 million (12%) had digestive or skin allergies. Family structure was unrelated to prevalence of respiratory allergy in Hispanic children, but non-Hispanic white children in unmarried biological families (9%) were less likely to have respiratory allergies than those in nuclear (12.2%) or single-parent families (15.5%).

Four million children (6%) had frequent migraines or headaches, and 4.2 million had more than two ear infections in a year. Children in nuclear families (4.5%) were less likely to have frequent migraines or headaches than those in single-parent families (8%).

Developmental delays affected 2.6 million children (3.6%), 1.3 million of whom (1.8%) received special education for emotional or behavioral problems. Children living in nuclear families (3%) were less likely than those in single-parent families (4.6%) to have mental retardation. In total, 6.9 million children aged 3 to 17 years had an LD or ADHD, and 8.1 million aged 5 to 17 years missed more than 5 days of school because of illness or injury.

Health Insurance Coverage

Seven million children had no health insurance coverage. Health insurance coverage was less likely among children in nuclear (8%) versus single-parent families (9.1%). Additionally, 3.7 million children (5%) lacked a usual place of health care. In a 12-month period, 19.4 million children aged 1 to 17 years did not have a medical checkup, and 5.2 million children (7.2%) made multiple visits to an ER. Because of concerns over costs, 2.8 million children failed to seek necessary medical care. About 9.4 million children (12.9%) required prescription drugs, but cost prevented 1.8 million children from obtaining the medication. Children living in unmarried biological families (9.2%) were least likely to have a problem requiring the regular use of a prescription drug.

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