Children’s Socioeconomic Status and Health: Progress Made and Opportunities to Seize – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recently released the 2011 edition
of their annual report on the health status of the nation. The 35th
edition, “Health, United States, 2011,” provides single year data, as well as
trend data where it is available. The report compiles the most currently
available information and statistics from various government, private, and
global agencies; a complete list of which can be found in the report’s

A special feature of this year’s report is the chartbook
that highlights the relationship of health status and socioeconomic status
(SES), which here is measured by two variables, education and relative family
income.  Several indicators specific to children’s health include:
prevalence of asthma, ADHD, obesity, dental visits and health insurance status.

Corroborating data from many other recent surveys, the
chartbook reveals that the rate of uninsurance among children declined in the
last decade. The most significant gains having been made among low-income
children, who saw their uninsurance rate almost cut in half. Still, the
2009-2010 data reveal racial disparities for children within the same percent
of poverty level.

In addition, low-income children continue to experience
health disparities in health outcomes and in access and utilization of care.
Data from 2009-2010 indicate that low-income children had a higher prevalence
of asthma and were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.  Additionally,
there are racial disparities among children in households with the same poverty
level. The data on obesity show that rates were higher for children whose head
of household had lower educational attainment. Boys generally had higher rates
of obesity than girls, except for those residing in homes where the head of
household’s highest educational attainment was high school.

Oral health has increasingly been recognized as a part of
comprehensive health care, although access to routine dental care can be hard
to come by
.  On a positive note, during the last decade, the
percentage of children who reported visiting a dentist in the past year
increased exponentially for low-income children. Still, in 2010, the percentage
of children below the poverty level that have seen a dentist in the past year
is still far less than the percentage of kids at or above 400% FPL.

Although I’ve only highlighted a few data points, we see
that while we have made great progress in covering kids, the opportunities
abound for addressing those health care disparities that persist.

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