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Longitudinal Study of Health Status in Children

Longitudinal Study of Health Status in Children

Project Title: Trajectories in Health and Use of Health and Social Services by Children with Developmental Disabilities: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study
Investigators: Shahin Shooshtari, Marni Brownell, Natalia Dik
Affiliations: St.Amant Research Centre, University of Manitoba (UM) Department of Family Social Sciences and Community Health Sciences, UM Centre for Health Policy – Department of Community Health Sciences
Research Sponsor: Manitoba Health Research Council

Introduction

In 2002, Statistics Canada reported that there were an estimated 46,180 children under the age of 15 years who live with a Developmental Disability (DD) in Canada. Although there is extensive information and reports on the health and well-being of Canadian children, both at the national, and provincial level, there is currently a lack of information on the health of Canadian children who live with DDs.

Prior studies that show significant health disparities between individuals with and without DDs, have mainly involved adult populations. To the best of our knowledge, there has not been any study in Canada describing the health of children with DD, and how their health changes as they develop, through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.

Objectives

1. Describe the health status of children with DD who were born between 1987 and 1991.

2. Examine health trajectories for children in the study as they grow older over time;

3. Compare health status and health trajectories between children in the study group and a matched comparison group;

4. Describe and compare use of health and social services between the DD group and the matched comparison group.

Conclusions

Children with DD had poorer health status compared to the comparison group. The health disparities experienced by children with DD persisted over time. More frequent physician visits by children with DD may or may not reflect their greater needs for healthcare. Further population-based research is needed to examine reasons for physician visits. Similarly, the high rate of out-of-home placement of children with DD calls for more in-depth population-based studies examining reasons for such placements. Targeted health promotion programs for children with DD are needed in the areas of injury prevention, diabetes prevention and mental health.

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