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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 583249, 11 pages
Research Article

Factors Influencing Physical Activity in Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs: A Pilot Study

1Drexel School of Public Health, Drexel University, 245 N. 15th Street, Mail Stop 660, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
2Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, 245 N. 15th Street, Mail Stop 1030, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
3The Research Center, Franciscan Hospital for Children, 30 Warren Street, Brighton, MA 02135, USA
4Department of Pediatrics, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, 3601 A Street, Philadelphia, PA 19134, USA

Received 14 December 2011; Revised 3 February 2012; Accepted 13 February 2012

Academic Editor: Kristie F. Bjornson

Copyright © 2012 Katie Feehan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Evidence suggests that children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) have decreased physical activity compared to peers. This study describes weight status and physical activity in CYSHCN and identifies factors associated with physical activity and community resources to promote physical activity. Methods. Parents ( 𝑛 = 2 1 ) and CYSHCN ( 𝑛 = 2 3 ) were recruited from a pediatric clinic. The most prevalent diagnoses were autism ( 𝑛 = 7 , 30%) and cerebral palsy ( 𝑛 = 3 , 13%). Interviews were conducted with parents for information on physical activity and community resources. Children’s height and weight were measured to calculate body mass index (BMI). Results. The majority of CYSHCN ( 𝑛 = 1 3 , 59%) were obese. CYSHCN did not meet recommended levels of 60 minutes of daily physical activity and engaged in more screen time than recommended. More children with cognitive/behavioral/emotional diagnoses were obese compared to children with physical/medical diagnoses. A majority of parents ( 𝑛 = 1 6 , 73%) indicated their CYSHCN need more supervision to participate in physical activity in community programs. Conclusion. The majority of CYSHCN in this study were obese and sedentary. Resources to promote physical activity are needed for this population.