My son started to have migraines when he was about 11 years old.
Must be stress, BPA, poor eating habits, all of the screen time, or vaccines, right?
“Americans spend the least on food, the most on health care, have the most highly vaccinated kids, and have the sickest kids of any industrialized country. More kids than not are now chronically ill, developmentally delayed, and eating or injecting prescription medications from cradle to grave – which is going to be a quicker trip for them than it was for their parents, according to data on life expectancy in the US. We are inured to childhood autism, epilepsy, allergy, asthma, diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s disease and cancer. We are dying younger. We are going backwards.”
Judy Converse on America’s New Normal: Chronically Ill Kids
That likely seems like a young age to get migraines and would fit well with the narrative that kids today are part of the unhealthiest generation ever.
Except that I started to get migraines at about the same age, and so did my mother. Like many of the other conditions that seem to be ballooning today, migraines have a genetic component.
The Unhealthiest Generation?
Who says that today’s kids are part of the unhealthiest generation ever?
Mostly anti-vaccine folks who blame vaccines for making kids unhealthy and alternative medical providers who think their holistic remedies will fix all of the problems they see in our unhealthy kids who they claim are full of “toxins.”
Toxins? If you are going to believe that our kids are all sick, then you have to buy into the narrative that toxins are everywhere, especially in vaccines, and they are making kids sick.
Of course, none of that is true.
“From developing groundbreaking treatments for deadly chronic diseases to saving babies who are born premature, pediatric researchers have increased the ability of children to live full and fulfilling lives that only a few decades before would have been tragically cut short.”
Sandra G. Hassink, MD on the 7 Great Achievements in Pediatric Research
And today’s kids, all 73.6 million of them in the United States, aren’t the unhealthiest. They are actually a very healthy generation, being born with the lowest child and infant mortality rates ever, low rates of hospitalizations, and one of the highest life expectancies in history.
Our Healthy Kids
How do we know today’s kids are healthy?
One easy way is to compare them to kids in the past…
If you have only been listening to the alarmists who talk about the unhealthiest generation all of the time, you likely wouldn’t know that:
- while 2.6% of kids were thought to be in fair or poor health in 1991, that is down to just 1.8% today (2015)
- fewer kids today (4.5%) report having had an asthma attack in the previous year than they did in 1997 (5.4%), and that fewer kids have asthma today (8.5%) than in 2003 (8.7%)
- since 1997, fewer children, whether or not they have insurance, are visiting the emergency room
- fewer children are requiring overnight hospital stays, down from 5.5% to just 2.1% today (2015)
- rates of hay fever or respiratory allergy are down since 1997, from 17.5% of kids to 15.6% of kids today (2015)
- rates of epilepsy have been stable in children for at least 40 years
- fewer kids have multiple ear infections since 1997, when 7.1% of kids had 3 or more ear infections, to just 5% of kids today (2015)
- fewer kids are being prescribed antibiotics
- cancer rates have been stable in kids, although mortality rates have been declining
- suicide rates are rising, but only from historic lows – they used to be about the same or higher in the early 1990s
Of course, some conditions are on the rise, including ADHD, type 1 diabetes, food allergies, eczema, obesity, and most autoimmune diseases.
“A few conditions have decreased because of prevention (eg, lead encephalopathy), a few represent relatively new conditions (eg, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection), and some have increased after dramatic improvements in survival for individually low-prevalence childhood conditions that previously had high fatality rates (eg, leukemia, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart diseases). Most growth, however, reflects dramatic increases in incidence of a few high-prevalence conditions.”
James M. Perrin, MD on The Increase of Childhood Chronic Conditions in the United States
And autism rates have been up, but we mostly know why.
“…the numbers of people born with autism aren’t necessarily increasing dramatically. It’s just that we’re getting better and better at counting them.”
Although we don’t know why most other conditions are trending up (it isn’t vaccines), we will hopefully continue to develop new theories and reverse those trends.
It should be reassuring that many of the trends do show that our kids are indeed healthy.
What to Know About Our Healthy Kids
From gun violence and climate change to the threat of emerging infections, out children do face many threats and are certainly under a lot of stress. There is no evidence that this is the unhealthiest generation though. If anything, they are on track to be one of the healthiest.
More on Our Healthy Kids
- America’s Children at a Glance
- America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017
- National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2016: With Chartbook on Long-term Trends in Health. Hyattsville, MD. 2017.
- WHO – Levels and trends in child mortality report 2017
- AAP – 7 Great Achievements in Pediatric Research
- Good News Hidden in the Data: Today’s Children Are Healthier
- Study – Inequality in mortality decreased among the young while increasing for older adults, 1990-2010.
- Study – Epilepsy: Trends in new-onset epilepsy — the importance of comorbidities
- Overweight in Children
- Life Expectancy Trends
- Suicidal Teens
- Asthma Trends
- Trends in Overweight Children and Youth
- Learning Disability Trends
- ADHD Trends
- Young Adult Depression Trends
- Child Health, Part 1: Overview of Problems, Trends, and Strategies for Improvement
- Study – Childhood health: trends and consequences over the life course.
- The Increase of Childhood Chronic Conditions in the United States
- Another reminder that there is no autism epidemic
- The Alleged Autism Epidemic
- Autism – The Epidemic That Never Was
- Autism prevalence: Now estimated to be one in 88, and the antivaccine movement goes wild
- Majority Of Autism Increase Due To Diagnostic Changes, Finds New Study
- Vaccines and autism: A thorough review of the evidence
- The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood
- Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits?
- Suicide Rates for Females and Males by Race and Ethnicity: United States, 1999 and 2014
- Suicide Trends Among Youths and Young Adults Aged 10–24 Years — United States, 1990–2004
- Study – Prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents from 2001 to 2009
- Study – The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States.
- Study – Cancer incidence rates and trends among children and adolescents in the United States, 2001-2009.
- Study – The State of US Health, 1990-2016: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among US States.
- Study – Trends of outpatient prescription drug utilization in US children, 2002-2010.
- Disparities in health within the U.S.