THE BIG 5 LIST: Top 5 Childhood Diseases On The Rise

Childhood Illness, Immune System, Nutrition, Organic, Parent Advice

Many authors claim that Genetically Engineered (GE) foods are safe by “scientific consensus”, and that we have nothing to worry about. But the day-to-day clinical experience of doctors treating children leads us to believe that we should not be easily reassured, because we know that many diseases are on the rise. If American children were getting healthier overall, we would have no reason to raise the question of negative health effects of GE foods. However, this is not the case; thus GE foods, and anything else in the environment that has been changing in the last few decades, are under suspicion. We discuss the biological plausibility of GMO effects and elaborate on statistics in the section entitled “Pediatric Perspectives”.
American children are not in good health: 43% of U.S. children have a chronic illness, a percentage that rises to 52% when obesity is included as a disease[ref]Bethell CD, Kogan MD, Strickland BB, Schor EL, Robertson J, Newacheck PW.,
A national and state profile of leading health problems and health care quality for US children: key insurance disparities and across-state variations,
Acad Pediatr. 2011 May-Jun;11(3 Suppl):S22-33,[/ref].
The following chronic diseases, which have multiple causes, are on the rise in children:
1. Food allergies
Hospitalizations for severe food allergies increased substantially from 1990-2006[ref]Lin RY, Anderson AS, Shah SN, Nurruzzaman F.,
Increasing anaphylaxis hospitalizations in the first 2 decades of life: New York State, 1990 -2006,
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Oct;101(4):387-93,[/ref].
2. Type 1 diabetes
The incidence of this disease has been rising in recent decades[ref]Lipman TH, Levitt Katz LE, Ratcliffe SJ, Murphy KM, Aguilar A, Rezvani I, Howe CJ, Fadia S, Suarez E.,
Increasing incidence of type 1 diabetes in youth: twenty years of the Philadelphia Pediatric Diabetes Registry,
Diabetes Care. 2013 Jun;36(6):1597-603,[/ref] , both in the US and in Europe. Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type I diabetes. There has been a 4% increase from 2010-2012.[ref]Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014 (released June 10, 2014),[/ref] Contrary to other diseases, the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes is straightforward from a clinical perspective and is not confused with other clinical entities, leaving no doubt that this represents a true increase in incidence.
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Severe bowel disease has been increasing in children, most notably since 1990. Two autoimmune diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, appear to be on the rise in children[ref]Malaty HM, Fan X, Opekun AR, Thibodeaux C, Ferry GD.,
Rising incidence of inflammatory bowel disease among children: a 12-year study,
J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Jan;50(1):27-31,[/ref], [ref]Benchimol EI1, Fortinsky KJ, Gozdyra P, Van den Heuvel M, Van Limbergen J, Griffiths AM.,
Epidemiology of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease: a systematic review of international trends,
Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2011 Jan;17(1):423-39. doi: 10.1002/ibd.21349,[/ref].
4. Neurodevelopmental Illness
The rates of ADHD[ref]Division of Human Development, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 2015,[/ref] , neurodevelopmental disability[ref]Division of Human Development, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 2015,[/ref], and autism spectrum disorder[ref]Division of Birth Defects, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Feb., 2015,[/ref] have all been increasing. The percentage of children who have been disabled by a neurodevelopmental illness has increased overall[ref]Halfon N, Houtrow A, Larson K, Newacheck PW.,
The changing landscape of disability in childhood,
Future Child. 2012 Spring; 22(1):13-42,[/ref]. Even if ADHD or autism is increasingly recognized (vs. truly on the increase), the fact that the percentage of disabled children is increasing suggests that there is truly worsening state of children’s health in this respect.
5. Celiac disease
This is another autoimmune disease with increasing prevalence in children. In a study that examined blood banked since 1974, the presence of antibodies characteristic of celiac disease doubled every 15 years since that time. This trend began before the introduction of GE food, and has continued since. [ref]Tack GJ, Wieke H, Verbeek M, Schreurs W, Mulder CJJ, The Spectrum of Celiac Disease: Epidemiology, Clinical Aspects and Treatment,
Medscape Family Medicine (2010),[/ref], [ref]Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, et al., Increased prevalence and mortality in undiagnosed celiac disease. Gastroenterology. Jul 2009;137(1):88-93,[/ref]

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