INTRODUCTION: The purpose of the study was to describe morbidity in ethnic minority children during their first year of life. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Baseline data from a cohort of 482 ethnic minority children born in Denmark in 1995. The mothers were interviewed in their homes, when on an average their children were 7 1/2 months old. The results were compared with those of a parallel cohort study of 5429 children born in 1995 by Danish citizens. RESULTS: Out of all of the minority children, 86% had had a cold, 33% had had vomits, 29% had had diarrhea, 27% had had fever without other symptoms, 21% had suffered from middle ear infection, 21% had been wheezing, 21% had had eczema/rash, and 10% had suffered from pneumonia. Minority children aged 3-6 months had more often had gastrointestinal symptoms, middle ear infection, high fever without other symptoms and had because of illness more often been seen by a family doctor, an emergency doctor or had visited an emergency room than was the case with Danish children. Minority children had more seldom than Danish children been ill or had a cold or wheeze, and had more seldom been given medication. DISCUSSION: Slightly increased morbidity from some illnesses was found among minority children and a little less from other illnesses compared with Danish children. However, the differences were not substantial.
The article describes the health situation in relation to demographic and social class variables in a sample of 1,671 schoolchildren aged 11, 13 and 15 years in Denmark. The proportions assessing their health as excellent, good, fair, or poor were 47%, 39%, 13%, and 1%, respectively. 22% reported daily symptoms and 74% weekly symptoms (20% one symptom a week, 54% two or more symptoms). During one week, 50% suffered from bad moods, 37% insomnia, 30% depression, 26% headaches, 22% nervousness, 19% back pain, 14% abdominal pain, and 12% vertigo. 37% had used medical drugs during the last month, most frequently for headaches (25%), colds (11%), coughs (9%) and abdominal pain (8%). Girls showed poorer self-assessed health than boys, more symptoms and more use of medication. The youngest pupils had the most frequent symptoms and the oldest least. There were no health differences when place of residence or family composition were considered, but there were clear social class differences. Pupils from the lowest social class and pupils whose parents were not included in the social class classification (e.g. disability pensioners) had the poorest self-assessed health, the most frequent symptoms and the highest use of medication.
Epilepsy and asthma, especially non-severe asthmatic bronchitis, were the most frequent genuinely paediatric diagnoses among children referred to paediatric specialist examination. Atopic dermatitis was a substantial problem. A number of patients were probably suffering from sequelae of diseases, which can be prevented or treated. Among potential etiological factors may be mentioned perinatal asphyxia, infections, and neonatal hyperbilirubinemia including kernicterus. Postneonatally meningitis may be mentioned. Cerebral palsy and epilepsy were possible sequelae. Otitis media cannot be considered as genuine paediatric diseases, but nevertheless this was the most frequent diagnosis among children referred to paediatric examination. A few cases of rare diseases were seen, among these some specifically Greenlandic diseases, for instance familial Greenlandic cholestasis and familial hypoplasia of the adrenal cortex. Other health problems than diseases (Z-diagnoses) represented 24% of diagnoses made, among these fear of disease.
Comment In: Ugeskr Laeger. 1998 Aug 3;160(32):4659-609719752
INTRODUCTION: The purpose of the study was to describe accumulated incidences of common diseases among Danish children during their first months of life, and identify risks and protective factors. MATERIAL AND METHODS: In 1995, mothers with Danish citizenship of 5998 randomly selected newborn children in Denmark were asked to participate in a national prospective study, representative of children of mothers with Danish citizenship. Mothers of 5429 infants participated and were interviewed when on an average their babies were 4 1/2 months old. RESULTS: At the time of the interview, 85% of all infants had had a cold, 23% had been wheezing, 22% had had rash/eczema, 13% had had vomits, 11% had had diarrhoea, 11% had had high fever without other symptoms, 5% had suffered from middle ear infection, 5% had had pneumonia, 1% had had blood in stools and 1% had had convulsions, and 13% had suffered from other diseases. Maternal age and breastfeeding protected against diseases. Siblings, damp/cold housing, and the psychological stress of the mother increased the risks, whereas maternal smoking and low birth weight had no effect on most of the outcomes. DISCUSSION: This study underpins the significant importance of breastfeeding against morbidity and the augmented risks from siblings.