Mental Health and Child Developmental Problems: The “Not-So-New Morbidity”

  • Benard P. Dreyer
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Benard P. Dreyer, MD, New York University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, 550 First Ave, New York, New York 10016.
    Affiliations
    Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
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      A series of articles in this issue of Academic Pediatrics deal with child and family mental health concerns and childhood developmental problems, raising questions about their burden for children and families, the role of the primary care pediatrician in screening, diagnosing, and managing these issues, and the inadequacies of the health care system to properly address these morbidities.
      • Hacker K.A.
      • Williams S.
      • Myagmarjav E.
      • Cabral H.
      • Murphy M.
      Persistence and change in Pediatric Symptom Checklist scores over 10 to 18 months.
      • Ortega A.N.
      • Horwitz S.M.
      • Fang H.
      • Kuo A.A.
      • Wallace S.P.
      • Inkelas M.
      Documentation status and parental concerns about development in young US children of Mexican origin.
      • Wang C.J.
      • Elliott M.N.
      • Rogowski J.
      • Lim N.
      • Ratner J.A.
      • Schuster M.A.
      Factors influencing the enrollment of eligible extremely-low-birth-weight children in the Part C Early Intervention program.
      • Paula C.S.
      • Nakamura E.
      • Wissow L.
      • et al.
      Primary care and children's mental health in Brazil.
      • Witt W.P.
      • Gottlieb C.A.
      • Hampton J.
      • Litzelman K.
      The impact of childhood activity limitations on parental health, mental health, and workdays lost in the United States.
      • Duke N.N.
      • Skay C.L.
      • Pettingell S.L.
      • Borowsky I.W.
      Adolescent perception of premature risk for death: contributions from individual and environmental contextual factors.
      These “not-so-new morbidities” are as problematic today as they were when first described as “the new morbidity” by Robert Haggerty and his colleagues in 1975.
      • Haggerty R.J.
      • Roghmann K.J.
      • Pless I.B.
      Child Health and the Community.
      By the end of the millennium, the increasing complexity of the physical and social environment brought to the attention of the pediatrician “the newer morbidities”: continued mental health and educational concerns; social disarray leading to increasing violence, homelessness, and substance abuse; and the challenges associated with increased survivorship of low birth weight infants and children with HIV and other previously fatal diseases.
      Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health
      American Academy of Pediatrics. The new morbidity revisited: a renewed commitment to the psychosocial aspects of pediatric care.
      • Palfrey J.S.
      • Tonniges T.F.
      • Green M.
      • Richmond J.
      Introduction: addressing the millennial morbidity–the context of community pediatrics.
      In 2005, Palfrey and colleagues
      • Palfrey J.S.
      • Tonniges T.F.
      • Green M.
      • Richmond J.
      Introduction: addressing the millennial morbidity–the context of community pediatrics.
      described the “millennial morbidity”: increasing mental health concerns; the continued effect of socioeconomic, racial, and other factors leading to health disparities; the powerful effect of technology; and the emergence of the epidemic of obesity. The persistence of developmental, educational, and mental health concerns from the “new” to the “newer”—and now the millennial morbidities—makes the findings of these articles particularly worthy of our attention.
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