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Young adults growing up with chronic illness probably require special health care due to both physical and emotional problems. A recent study suggests that young adults with chronic illness have poorer educational, vocational and financial outcomes. The study findings may have great significance in the health zone.

At the time of the study, data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was thoroughly evaluated to ascertain young adult outcomes in a nationally representative group of young men and women within the U.S. growing up with a chronic illness. The study encompassed 13,236 young adults aged 18 to 28 years. Individuals suffering from asthma or non-asthmatic chronic illness such as cancer, diabetes mellitus, or epilepsy were matched with those who did not have any of these conditions.

Scientists quote, “Most young adults with chronic illness graduated high school (81.3 percent) and currently had employment (60.4 percent). However, compared with healthy young adults, those with non-asthmatic chronic illness were significantly less likely to graduate high school, ever have had employment, or currently have employment and were more likely to receive public assistance.”

While 16 percent of the young adults in the sample had asthma, 3 percent were diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, or epilepsy. Those with non-asthmatic chronic illness reportedly had worse young adult outcomes on all measures than those with asthma. The non-asthmatic chronic illness group possibly was less likely to have graduated high school, seek employment and receive support from SNAP [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program]. These participants were supposedly provided with SSI/disability insurance and lived with a parent or guardian.

Gary R. Maslow, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues mention that continued efforts to support children growing up with chronic illness in becoming successful adults can be introduced. Interventions specially targeting educational attainment and vocational readiness can also be adapted.

The study is published in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.