Childhood disease costs $76 billion a year

May 4, 2011 at 9:54 PM
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NEW YORK, May 4 (UPI) -- The childhood healthcare cost of treating U.S. children with lead poisoning dwarfs the cost of childhood cancer or autism, researchers calculated.

Leonardo Trasande of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York says U.S. childhood disease and medical conditions add more than $76 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs.

Trasande and colleagues focused on the cost of lead poisoning, childhood cancer and chronic conditions, including asthma, intellectual disability, autism and attention deficit disorder -- conditions linked to environmental toxins and pollutants in the air, food, water, soil and homes.

The study, published in the May issue of Health Affairs also found childhood healthcare costs include:

-- Lead poisoning, $50.9 billion.

-- Autism, $7.9 billion.

-- Intellectual disability, $5.4 billion.

-- Exposure to mercury, $5.1 billion.

-- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, $5 billion.

-- Asthma, $2.2 billion.

-- Childhood cancer,t $95 million.

"Left unchecked, these preventable environmental factors will continue to harm the health of our children and push up healthcare costs," Trasande says. "By updating environmental regulations and laws aimed at protecting the public's health, we can reduce the toll taken by such factors on children's health and the economy."

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