Chronically ill Children Appear Resilient

New research shows children with chronic illnesses may not suffer from as many long-term psychological effects as previously thought.

Researchers from Columbus Children’s Hospital in Ohio studied 125 children with sickle cell disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer. The children were between ages 8 and 15 when they first enrolled in the study. Researchers followed the children until they reached 18 years of age and compared their psychological disposition to that of healthy individuals.

Results indicated that young adults with a history of severe chronic illness were doing just as well as their healthy counterparts.

The two groups had similar histories of medication use and psychotherapy. Also, both groups reported experiencing about the same amount of psychiatric disorders.

These young adults were amazingly resilient. Although that was somewhat surprising, it also fits the impression you form when you get to know some of these youngsters and their families.

Researchers say these findings should help parents and health care professionals identify risk factors and set realistic expectations for children with chronic illnesses.

The good news is that this research shows that, on average, children with these types of chronic illnesses aren’t any more susceptible to psychiatric symptoms and disorders than their peers. That isn’t to say that some children won’t have difficulties, but the chances of that aren’t greater than if they had never developed their chronic illness.

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