Monday, October 20, 2008

Kids’ Health: Study Shows Gap Between Middle Class, Wealthy

"It’s no surprise that children born to poor and uneducated parents are more likely to be in bad health and die as infants than children of the wealthy and educated. But a study recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America, ‘America’s Health Starts with Healthy Children,’ reveals that parents’ income and education are linked so closely to their children’s health, there’s also a significant difference between the health of middle-class children and that of their wealthier counterparts. The study also reports that states in the South and Southwest, including Arizona, have the largest ‘health gaps’ between poor and rich children. States in the upper Midwest, northern Great Plains and Northeast have the smallest gaps. Arizona ranks 49th among states based on the size of the gap in children’s general health status by family income, when comparing the overall rate of 19.3 percent of children in less than optimal health with the lower rate — 6.3 percent — seen among kids in higher-income families, the report states. The health of American children is a matter of concern, made worse by the disparities between poor kids and rich kids, the report said. The authors warn that the sources of health disparities are so entrenched that a major expansion of health care alone would not close the gap. They said in a conference call to discuss the findings that although policymakers and presidential candidates are focused on improving health care, the problem would best be tackled by changing society. ‘Even if we had equal access to health care, we’d still have disparities and shortfalls in health,’ said David Williams, the commission’s staff director. ‘It’s not just access to health care; it’s where you live, learn, work, play and worship.’ For example, the report’s authors said, children in unsafe neighborhoods have less access to parks and other recreational centers. The report looked at infant mortality and children’s health. Nationwide, 6.5 of 1,000 infants die before their first birthdays. That problem is worst in Mississippi, which has the highest overall infant mortality rates: 9.9 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Massachusetts has the lowest level: 4.6 deaths per 1,000.”^1717318&brthrs=1

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