Institute of Public Health in Ireland – One in six three-year in Ireland have a serious longstanding health condition
Prevalence higher among boys and children from lower socio-economic backgrounds
By Prof Kevin P Balanda
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) report, Longstanding Health Conditions among Three Year Old Children in the Republic of Ireland in 2011, shows that 15.8% of three-year-olds in Ireland – about 11,000 children – have at least one serious longstanding health condition.
In more detail:
- 9.5% have diagnosed asthma or asthma symptoms
- 4.0% have diagnosed eczema/skin allergy
- 5.9% have ever had a sight problem that required correction
- 3.9% have ever had a hearing problem that required correction
The report is based on a systematic analysis of data from Wave Two of the Infant Cohort (three-year-old children) of the Growing Up in Ireland National Longitudinal Study of Children (GUI).
The report deals with five common serious conditions that were reported by carers including ‘longstanding illness, condition or disability’, diagnosed asthma or asthma symptoms, diagnosed eczema / skin allergy, sight problems that required correction and hearing problems that required correction. Children with these conditions can have poorer quality of life, poorer social and emotional development, and poorer educational achievement. Knowing the characteristics of children with these conditions helps us develop policies and plan services for children and their families.
The burden of these health conditions is unequally distributed across the three-year-old population. The study found that boys are 50% more likely than girls to have such conditions and children in the lowest socio-economic households are 50% more likely than those in other households to have such a condition. In addition, children whose primary carer is ill are over 100% more likely than those with well primary carers to have such a condition. These health inequalities seen among three-year-olds reflect those found among adults that have been reported in earlier IPH reports.
The report also shows that a child’s birth circumstances are important factors in whether or not they have sight problems by age three:
Children born with low birth weight are 70% more likely than other children to have sight problems
Children whose mother smoked during pregnancy are 50% more likely than other children
To access the report Longstanding Health Conditions among Three Year Old Children in the Republic of Ireland in 2011, click here.
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) promotes cooperation for public health between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by:
- strengthening public health intelligence
- building public health capacity
- policy and programme development and evaluation
For more information on the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH), click here.
Prof Kevin P Balanda
Kevin Balanda has over thirty years’ experience in the development and application of health intelligence across the academic, Government and semi-government sectors. Currently, he is Director of Research at the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH), adjunct Professor of Public Health at UCC and a Fellow of the UK Faculty of Public Health (FFPH). His interests focus on the development and implementation of public health initiatives that address the broader determinants of health and aim to reduce health inequalities.