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Socioeconomic disadvantage and onset of childhood chronic disabling conditions: a cohort study
  1. Nick Spencer1,
  2. Lyndall Strazdins2
  1. 1Division of Mental Health and Well-being, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
  2. 2National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Emeritus Nick Spencer, Division of Mental Health and Well-being, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, CV4 9JD, UK; n.j.spencer{at}


Objective To study the temporal relationship between socioeconomic disadvantage and onset of chronic disabling conditions in childhood.

Method Using parent reported data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, we compared children who developed a chronic disabling condition between the ages of 6/7 and 10/11 years with children without a chronic disabling condition at either age. Logistic regression models assessed association between onset of chronic disabling condition and household income quintiles at 6/7 years, adjusting for confounders. To study the consequences of chronic disabling condition onset for family finances, a linear regression model was fitted on change in household income adjusted for income at 6/7. We compared prevalence of family material hardship in the two groups between 6/7 and 10/11.

Results Of 4010 children present in both waves, complete data were available for 3629 of whom 233 (6.4%) developed a chronic disabling condition between 6/7 and 10/11. After adjustment for confounding, the children from the lowest income quintile were more than twice as likely to develop a chronic disabling condition as those from the highest income quintile. Onset of a chronic disabling condition was associated with a relatively smaller increase in household income over time, but no change in hardship prevalence.

Conclusions Family socioeconomic disadvantage when children are aged 6/7 is associated with their development of a chronic disabling condition over the next 4 years and with adverse effects on household income.

  • Socioeconomic disadvantage
  • childhood chronic disabling conditions
  • cohort study

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