Unhealthy Weight, Access to Medical Care and Poverty Highlighted in Children’s Report Card

Action for ChildrenThe 2009 North Carolina Child Health Report Card, issued jointly today by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and Action for Children North Carolina, indicates that while the health and safety of the state’s children and youth have improved in many areas, there is still cause for concern.

Data from the Report Card highlight the following challenges facing North Carolina’s children:

  • Approximately 20% of North Carolina’s 2.2 million children (ages 0-17) continue to live in poverty, providing a serious challenge to the health of children across the state.
  • Almost 1-in-10 children (ages 0-17) are still without health insurance. However, significant investments in public health insurance coverage have reduced the uninsured rate for children, despite the continued losses in employer-based coverage.
  • Access to medical care, particularly for children in low-income families, has improved significantly, but remains a concern. Access to dental care for these children has improved dramatically, but still lags well behind access to medical care.
  • The percentage of children who are overweight continues to worsen despite recent efforts to combat this problem. Almost 1-in-4 children (ages 2-18) are overweight.
  • While efforts to decrease tobacco use among high school students have been successful, the use of alcohol (37%), marijuana (19%) and other illicit substances remains unacceptably high.
  • The infant death rate has declined, and the overall child death rate is at an historic low; however, child abuse homicide remains a particularly tragic indicator of the need to provide more support for families. In 2008, there were 33 child abuse homicide deaths.

This is the 15th annual Child Health Report Card, which measures progress in 15 indicators from 2000-2008. This Report Card is unique in that data span the administration of Governor Mike Easley and the concurrent legislative sessions. “Though government is not the sole determinant of child health, our leaders do indeed set the tone, ” said Barbara Bradley, President and CEO of Action for Children North Carolina. “To the extent that a public vision of healthy, nurtured children is maintained, responses in terms of fiscal investments, child safety laws, state and local agency efforts and parental involvement are enhanced.”

“All the indicators in this Report Card have been addressed during the 2000-2008 period and continue to receive attention. This continued attention will enable the state to build upon improvements and address those indicators that lag behind” said Mark Holmes, Vice President of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM). “In recent years, there has been increased attention to evidence-based strategies. This is critical to creating changes, programs and policies that will lead to improvements in these child health and safety indicators,” said Holmes. The NCIOM leads studies to develop evidence-based recommendations to improve health. Access to care, child maltreatment, prevention and adolescent health are among the topics that have been studied by NCIOM task forces.

“While it is heartening that many improvements in child health have been achieved, it is clear that North Carolina has a long way to go,” said Bradley. “Data for some indicators such as child abuse homicides, overweight children, and the use of tobacco, alcohol and other illegal substances, relfect continued unacceptable risks to our children and youth and are cause for grave concern.”

Action for Children North Carolina will be conducting further analysis of indicators across race/ethnicity in the months ahead.

“North Carolina is facing daunting economic times, which means tough decisions have to be made,” said Holmes. “To avoid further declines in child health and safety, it is of the utmost importance that state leaders set and maintain a vision of healthy, safe children living in nurturing families.”

To view a copy of the report, you may use the following link: http://bit.ly/2sExj

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