There are about 50 million children in the United States. Fortunately, the majority of them are generally healthy. To help children stay healthy, it is important to understand the kind of health care even healthy children need.
How Regular Visits to the Pediatrician Can Help Your Child Maintain Good Health
Some of the health care interventions pediatricians can provide to help assure healthy children remain healthy include:
- Age-appropriate Immunizations
- Regular Preventive Care
- Regular monitoring and surveillance of general health and developmental progress
- Professional Treatment for Acute Illnesses and Injuries
Improving the Health of America’s Children in Past Decades
Helping healthy kids stay healthy accounts for only 10 percent of total childhood health care expenditures in the United States. And, there is mounting evidence that good health during childhood sets the stage for good health as an adult, making childhood health care even more important.
In the past twenty years, there has been an increased focus on improving children’s health. Still, there are many indications that children in the United States do not fare as well as their European counterparts on many aspects of health. There are even marked disparities of what is considered adequate health care within the United States, from one community to the next.
Children’s Health Care Is Specialized to the Individual Child
Many adults consider children to be little adults when it comes to health care. This is not, in any way, an accurate assessment. Children’s healthcare needs are not only different than those of adults, their illnesses and injuries are also very different. The diagnosis and treatments for children must be appropriate to their size, age, and development. For instance, many adult medications can seriously harm or kill a child.
The State of Children’s Health Care Today
Although there has been a great deal of progress in reducing childhood death and disease in the past several decades, improvement in children’s health care needs must continue to be met, and optimized, in order for America to remain competitive and productive in the world. Increasing access to health care to all children, regardless of income or where they live, and reducing environmental contaminants (such as lead) seem to have the greatest impact on improving the quality of the health of children.
Health Care Disparities Among American Children
Despite past improvements, here are some facts about children in the U.S. who still face serious barriers to living a healthy childhood, and-subsequently-healthy, productive adult lives:
- 12-19 percent of children in the U.S. have chronic health conditions
- About 15 percent of children and adolescents, ages 6 to 19 years of age, are overweight.
- 1 in 10 children has significant mental health conditions that cause some form of impairment
- Approximately 7 out of 1,000 children die before their first birthday
- 44 percent of deaths in children between the ages of 1 and 19 are caused by unintentional injuries.
Poor and minority children have the worst statistics when it comes to their health. For example:
- Black Americans have a higher infant mortality rate than white Americans
- Adolescent mortality rates for black male children is increasing, while it is decreasing for white adolescent males.
- Teen pregnancy rates have fallen, but black Americans still have higher rates than other population groups.
- Before the Affordable Care Act, Hispanic children were more likely to lack health insurance than black or white children.
These disparities can often be traced back to the inequality of health care access for children. These, and other substantial disadvantages for some groups of children during childhood, have major effects both on childhood health, adult health outcomes and subsequent health care costs.
American Children Are Our Country’s Future, And We Need Them to Be Healthy
We, as a nation, need to remember that the children in the U.S. will become the leaders of our democracy, tomorrow. They will become our doctors, teachers, scientists, and engineers. They will become our writers, poets, musicians, dancers, and artists. They will be there maintaining the day to day running of our country, building skyscrapers, offices, schools, churches and homes, trimming yards and planting trees, processing paperwork, picking up the trash, and farming healthy food. The children of today will police our streets, fight foreign invaders, and provide homeland security for our entire nation.
Today’s children will run our country, and to do so, they must be given a healthy start in life.
Understanding your children’s health care does have a lot to do with maintaining annual check-ups after the age of 5 or 6 years of age, and active health monitoring. But, for America to be its best, all American children must have access to constant health care and monitoring throughout their childhood.
Children’s Health Care of Massachusetts (CHC Mass) was the nation’s first community health center to open its doors in Boston, providing health services for low and moderate-income people in the inner city areas, and isolated rural communities. They provide child-centered and family-focused health care for all children.
Children’s Health Care of Massachusetts is your family’s partner in health, providing compassionate and personalized care for the whole child. Contact us for more information about how you can partner with CHC to help your child achieve the healthiest childhood, possible.