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P. Cumberland, S. Pathai, J. S. Rahi, the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group; Ethnic and Socio-Economic Variations in Eye Disease in Children: Findings in the Millennium Cohort Study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):5713.
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To investigate variations in prevalence of eye disease and visual impairment in a contemporary national cohort of children born in the UK.
The Millennium Cohort Study comprises a random sample of children born in the UK in 2000/1, with over-sampling of ethnic minorities and those from more socio-economically deprived areas. At age 3 years, 14,980 children had data available on maternal ethnicity, occupation-based socioeconomic status together with cross-checked parental report of eye conditions, blindness registration status and other chronic disorders. Eye conditions were categorized using a WHO taxonomy modified for application in the UK. Descriptive and multinomial regression analyses were undertaken with appropriately weighted adjustment for the study design.
By 3 years, 5.6% [95% CI 5.2-6.1 weighted %, N = 867] of children had at least one eye condition, with onset in the first year of life in 51%. Of these, 44 [overall 0.2%, 0.1-0.3] had some degree of visual impairment, mainly [75%, N=33] severe visual impairment or blindness. 25% of children with eye disease (35% in those with visual impairment) were reported to have at least one additional chronic systemic disorder, compared to 15% of children without eye disease [p<0.001]. Lower family socioeconomic status was associated with increased likelihood of reported eye disease per se and visual impairment; OR 1.5 [1.2, 1.9] and OR 1.4 [0.6, 3.5] respectively. Non-white children were less likely than white children to have eye disease without visual impairment, OR 0.6 [0.5, 0.8], notably those of mixed race, Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnicity. However, children of Bangladeshi or ‘other’ ethnicity were considerably more likely to have eye disease with visual impairment; OR 2.7 [0.3, 23] and OR 5.1 [0.7, 30] respectively.
Eye disease in childhood remains common in the UK and there are important ethnic and socio-economic variations in prevalence, as well as a high level of co-morbidity. These findings have implications for the planning of appropriate and equitable health services.
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