Our sick kids: The 4-A disorders

June 25, 2009

kid in bubbleThe numbers are staggering.  
Approximately 30 million – one third –  of all American children have one (or more) of these disorders –   Autism, Allergies, ADHD, and Asthma. 

Know as the 4-A disorders, the numbers of those affected continue to grow with little public outcry. What does the future hold for our little ones? Life in a bubble?

Consider these statistics:

  • Austism has increased from approximately 1 in every 2,500 to 10,000 births to one in every 150-166 births over just the past 20 years. This is a 15-fold to 60-fold increase; 1500% to 6000%.
  • In the US, one in every 150 children is affected by autism. In New Jersey the rate of autism is even higher – one in every 94 and one in 60 boys is affected.
  • The lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million, and that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism.
  • One in 11 children struggles with asthma, making it the leading serious chronic illness of children in the U.S.
  • In 2006, an estimated 6.8 million children under age 18 (almost 1.2 million under age 5) currently had asthma, 4.1 million of which had an asthma attack, and many others have “hidden” or undiagnosed asthma.
  • Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15.
  • Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. In 2003, an estimated 12.8 million school days were missed due to asthma.
  • ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood.
  • American kids now consume 90% of the world’s Ritalin.
  • ADHD has increased 400% in the past 20 years.
  • 4.5 million children 5-17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2006.
  • 7.8% of school-aged children were reported to have an ADHD diagnosis in 2003. Diagnosis of ADHD increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006.
  • Using a prevalence rate of 5%, the annual societal ‘‘cost of illness’’ for ADHD is estimated to be between $36 and $52 billion, in 2005 dollars, between $12,005 and $17,458 annually per individual.
  • One in four children has allergies.
  • Allergies are the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old.
  • Allergies are the most frequently reported chronic condition in children, limiting activities for more than 40% of them.
  • Each year, allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient office visits, primarily in the spring and fall; seasonal allergies account for more than half of all allergy visits.
  • Allergy to peanuts more than doubled from 1997 to 2002.

What’s causing these epidemics? Environment? Food? Casein? Gluten? Food additives? Genetically modified food? Chemicals? Poor nutrition? Obesity? Food coloring? Pesticides? Water? Immunizations? All of the above?

Don’t we owe it to our children, our society, our future, to get the answers?



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