Do Health Issues In Childhood Affect Their Future
Many people experience childhood illnesses that can impact their overall wellness in the future. Your health as an adult may be a direct result of your childhood. For example, socioeconomic status can impact your overall health. Meanwhile, obesity in childhood can be a precursor for diabetes as an adult. Do health issues in childhood affect their future? The answer is complicated and depends on the health issue and the steps someone has taken to improve their health in adulthood.
Children who face trauma can experience long-term impacts in adulthood. For example, children who experience trauma, such as abuse or neglect, are more prone to certain health issues as adults, such as lung disease from smoking and depression. Major childhood trauma can cause physical and psychiatric effects that last well into adulthood.
Childhood health conditions, such as cancer, can affect someone's health as an adult. For example, childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease due to the treatment and metabolic disorders related to the illness. Additionally, even less serious childhood illnesses, such as asthma and eczema, may increase the risk of more serious illnesses in adulthood, such as COPD.
How Can Childhood Health Issues Affect Their Future?
Children's health is the foundation for life-long health. Unfortunately, some illnesses are hereditary and cannot be prevented. For example, essential tremor is a hereditary condition that can affect individuals later in life, even if it's not present during childhood. Meanwhile, other health issues, such as cancer, can't be prevented. However, some health conditions, such as obesity, are completely preventable. Therefore, while some health issues in childhood can affect someone's future, not all of them do. In most cases, children who recover from illness lead healthy lives.
Early health matters because experiences and environmental influences can interact with genetic predispositions. Early experiences can create biological memories that shape a child's development. For example, stress can affect the body's stress response and developing brain, which can persist into adulthood and lead to lifelong mental and physical health issues. Here are a few ways childhood health issues can affect an individual's future:
Poor Living Conditions
As you already know, poor living conditions can affect a child's physical and mental health. For example, living in an abusive environment can cause physiological changes in a developing child. In addition, children who grow up with abuse are more likely to experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. They may even become abusers themselves, depending on their unique circumstances.
In addition to abuse situations, poor living conditions can include living with mold or other environmental health hazards like lead paint, which can affect a child's overall development. For example, years spent breathing in mold can contribute to respiratory problems later in life. Meanwhile, living with a parent that smokes indoors can contribute to asthma and COPD as an adult.
Children learn from their parents, and healthy children can grow up to make unhealthy choices based on what their parents taught them. For example, parents who eat fatty, unhealthy foods feed their kids the same foods. When we're young, we have faster metabolisms, and many kids aren't affected by these food choices until later in life. However, as an adult, the metabolism slows, and individuals taught to eat unhealthy food by watching their parents do it are at an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
Remember, children, learn by watching their parents. Therefore, children with parents who smoke are more likely to smoke. A parent's unhealthy choices can affect their children's health now and in the future.
Serious childhood health issues, such as cancer, can cause a child to miss out on social activities like going to school, playing with friends, and joining a local club. These social activities are crucial for a developing mind. In addition, socializing and interacting with others is especially important at a young age to help children develop the necessary skills to form relationships and feel confident.
Children who spend their time at home or in hospitals may socialize now and then, but they're not getting the same experiences as other kids their age, so they may lack the communication skills they need later in life, such as social cues and how to listen to others.
Additionally, unsocialized children may be less confident and independent than others because they haven't had the opportunity to build skills that can help them become more confident and autonomous as adults. Socialization is crucial for helping children develop their self-esteem and create connections. However, if a child is away from school and social settings for too long, they can't build these important skills, making it even more challenging to form adult relationships.
Childhood health issues can prevent children from attending school, directly impacting their education and learning ability. Luckily, most parents find ways to ensure their children are still getting an education while recovering from a serious illness. For example, parents might learn how to homeschool kids or hire a tutor to ensure they're not missing out on learning opportunities.
Unfortunately, many parents in the US lack the resources to homeschool their children when they're sick. Those in underserved communities may spend all their money paying for hospital visits and have nothing left to hire someone to teach their child. Additionally, these parents must go to work while their child recovers in the hospital just to be able to afford medical costs, so they can't become teachers on their own.
Children who miss the learning experience required in early childhood will lack social skills and basic life skills, such as reading and writing, that are necessary for success in adulthood. Unfortunately, even if a child recovers from their illness, they may end up many grades behind their peers, making them even more isolated.
How Childhood Health Issues Affect Adulthood
Some childhood health issues can affect a person as an adult. However, parents can take action to prevent this, especially if health conditions are due to learned behaviors. For example, childhood obesity can be a precursor for diabetes, but it doesn't have to be if parents can teach their children the importance of eating healthy. Unfortunately, not all childhood illnesses are preventable, but children who recover can become healthy adults depending on their health issues.
Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.