Elderly Kids: Alarming Number of US Children Affected by Adult-Onset Diseases

Children in the United States are showing a high incidence of diseases commonly associated with aging and adulthood, according to Practice Fusion's Research Division, which analyzes public health trends leveraging data from the company's Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform.

The study found that obesity-related diseases such as hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and sleep apnea have reached alarming rates among children, in spite of the common misconception that such illnesses are limited to older Americans.

Key findings from the study:

  • 1 in 10 US children between the ages of 10-18 are diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), with obese children three times more susceptible than children with a normal bodyweight
  • About 20,000 children across the US population ages 10-18 (roughly 45 per 100,000) have type II diabetes and another 75,000 have pre-diabetes (over 150 per 100,000)
  • 135 per 100,000 US children suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that, according to the American Heart Association, is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure. This number jumps to 350 per 100,000 among obese children
  • "At Practice Fusion, we have the unique opportunity to evaluate real-time data from one of the largest clinical health datasets in the country," said Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion. "We can access this data instantly where other organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, require lengthy trials and expensive research operations to attain similar estimates." 
  • The Practice Fusion study used a 400,000-record dataset de-identified from a national sample of patients, ages 2-18 years.