In previous centuries, people died from infectious diseases, malnutrition, untreated bacterial infection and a whole host of other maladies that advances in our living standards began to remedy. The invention of the sewerage system, flushing toilet, clean water supply and better housing with decent drains and more space did wonders for lowering the death rates until by the turn of the 20th century, they had declined by 90%.
(The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century - http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/pubhealth/rosner/g8965/client_edit/readings/week_2/mckinlay.pdf).
Pneumonia was common because of a lack of central heating in houses and children frequently got childhood illnesses like chickenpox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough.
What was vanishly rare, however, was childhood type one auto-immune diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, food allergies, tics, eczema, cancer and neurodevelopmental disorders.
What we now call autism did not even start to manifest itself until 1938 and was not reported on until 1943, when psychologist Leo Kanner wrote a paper on it, entitled 'Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact'. The 11 children he mentioned in his paper all had autistic tendancies from birth and in his words, 'have all shown their extreme aloneness from the very beginning of life', rather than the regressive autism we see today. No estimate could be made as to how many children would have the disorder as the 11 were the first presented. All the above mentioned health problems affect today's children and autism has reached pandemic proportions.
Today, the CDC say that one in every 68 children has an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
Today's children are more chronically sick than they have ever been and with increasingly lower neuro-cognitive rates. Doctors now say that it is normal for a kindergarten-aged child to have 12 colds every year and for a baby to have nine! There has been:
A fourfold increase in childhood obesity
Double the asthma rate since the 1980's
A massive jump in chronic illnesses. In 1960, 1.8% of U.S children had a chronic illness. By 2004 this had risen to 7% Now 43% of U.S children are chronically ill
One in six children in the USA now has a neurodevelopmental disability
One in 68 children (male and female) is autistic
Around one in 38 boys is autistic
In the USA, a country with more medical interventions than any other, 11,300 newborns die within 24 hours of birth every year. This gives them the worst neonatal death rate of all industrialised countries and 50% more first day deaths than all other industrialised countries combined.
Due to skyrocketing levels of obesity in children, researchers now suggest that the life-span of our children will reduce and that today's children will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Children are supposed to be well and vibrant but children of the 21st century are not. Chronically ill appears to be the new 'well'.
A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century
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