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Rajib Lodh, Bo Hou, Amy Hough, Sam Oddie, Dan Mason & John Wright
The purpose of this study is to describe the burden of health care utilisation and early education outcomes of children with and without rare diseases. Using the Born in Bradford birth cohort and its linked routine health care and education data, we looked at cumulative primary care episodes, hospital admissions and medication prescriptions. We assessed education outcomes using Early Years Foundation Stage Profile and the National Curriculum Tests-Key Stage 1 results. Among analytical sample of 13,858, 1711 or 12.3% children were identified with a rare disease by an average age of 14 years. Children with rare diseases were twice more likely to be admitted to hospital compared to children without. Average length of stay was around 5 days in those with rare diseases group compared to less than 1 day in those without. The average number of primary care episodes was 45.4 in children with rare diseases and 28.2 visits in those without. These children were over three times more likely to be on multiple medications. Children with rare diseases had 30% higher risk of being below academic expectations at Foundation Year and, depending on subject, between 50 and 60% higher risks at KS1 tests.
Conclusions: Children with rare diseases are significantly more likely to have increased primary care episodes and to have more regular medications. They are likely to have more hospital admissions with a longer stay also. Educationally, they are at higher risk of failing to achieve expected standards in early-year settings.