Chronic illness among children in a total population. An epidemiological study in a Swedish primary health care district
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The prevalence of chronic illness of all 6,080 0-15-year-old children in a defined geographical area in southern Sweden was studied. Information on the health status of the children was obtained from health and medical records, interviews with the district and school nurses and questionnaires to the parents. Chronic illness was defined as a disability interfering with normal life and/or demanding treatment for at least three months during the year 1981 and was revealed in 510 children corresponding to the period prevalence 84/1,000 with 95% confidence interval (CI) 60-108/1,000. Boys predominated. 131 children suffered from more than one disease. Chronic illness caused severe disability in 40 children, moderate in 113 and mild in 357 children. Atopic disorders were the leading cause of chronic illness (34/1,000 with 95% CI 29-39/1,000). Mental and nervous system disorders and congenital malformations were the most frequent causes of severe disability. Prevalence figures for the different diagnoses in relation to disability level, sex and age are presented.