To compare measures of well-being in children with and without different types and severity of limitations.
Nationally representative data for American children aged 5 to 17 years were drawn from the 1994 and 1995 National Health Interview Surveys on Disability (NHIS-D) (N = 41,300) and the Year 2000 Health Supplement to the 1994 NHIS-D (N = 9530). Family resources, safety, health status, and health access were measures of environment. The presence and severity of limitations were measured in the domains of mobility, self-care, communication, and learning.
Children with functional limitations were more likely to live in families with limited resources and have greater exposure to secondhand smoke, less access to health care, and lower health status. Children with a limitation were not less likely to have a regular source of medical care, but they more often were delayed or prevented from getting necessary health care due to cost or insurance.
Standard measures of child well-being were appropriate for children with functional limitations and showed their unfavorable situations. Children with functional limitations more often have unfavorable family resources, less healthy home environments, poorer health status, and less health service access than other children, making them more susceptible to developmental difficulties beyond those difficulties associated with the challenges of their specific functional limitations.