Child Health and Young Adult Outcomes
In this issue paper, the authors explore how health problems in early life are related to child outcomes. They used data from public health insurance records for 50,000 children born between 1979 and 1987 in the Canadian province of Manitoba and followed until 2006, when they were young adults. The authors compared siblings with different childhood health problems conditional on health at birth. They compared the impacts of health problems at different ages, and examined the consequences of different types of health problems including asthma, major injuries, externalizing mental health conditions, and other major conditions. The results suggest that many physical health problems in early life are significant predictors of future adult outcomes, largely because poor health in childhood predicted poor health in young adulthood. Short-term health events generally had little long-run impact. However, a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorder at school entry was a significant predictor of future outcomes whether or not future health problems occurred. The authors conclude that poor health in childhood may be a significant source of socioeconomic disparities in adulthood.