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Physical health conditions

Although the years 10-24 tend to be a time of good physical health, many young people will experience a range of short term physical health problems.  A significant minority will have long-term chronic conditions or some kind of disability.

Young people aged 16-20 are the group most likely to be diagnosed with asthma

Other conditions

10,246 young people aged 10-24 were discharged from hospital for treatment for sepsis in 2017/18

We cannot provide a comprehensive account of all the physical illnesses experienced by young people but there are several that have been of particular interest recently that do not fit under the headings above.  One is sepsis – NHS Digital (2019) reported that a total of 10,246 young people aged 10-24 were discharged from hospital after treatment for sepsis I the year 2017/18; 3% of the total discharges for sepsis.

Approximately 5000 10-24 year olds have sickle cell diseaseBoth sickle cell disease and thalassaemia are both important diseases that affect the 10-24 age group, but obtaining data across the four nations has proven challenging.  In England hospitals report into the National Haemoglobinopathies Registry, and their Annual data report for 2019/20 suggests approximately 5000 10-24 year olds have sickle cell.  Raw data has been unavailable to us (Foster, 2019/20).

We have also not included data on congenital conditions (such as heart conditions) and young people 10-24 living with conditions that would have been fatal in childhood at earlier points in history. This is issue for transition and services but is not well documented in teenagers and young adults.  Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common major congenital disorder, with a prevalence of almost 1% in live births (Mandalenakis et al, 2019).

Finally, we have not included a separate section on young people with rare diseases, but it is worth noting that they are an important part of the landscape when considering young people’s physical health, long-term conditions and disability.  It is estimated that there are approximately 6,000 rare diseases, of which three quarters have their onset in childhood.  In the general population as a whole, approximately 1 in 17 people have a rare disease (Rare Diseases UK, 2019).

All data correct as of 1st November 2021