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Childhood health concerns vary based on race and ethnic background

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bullying is ranked fourth overall among childhood health concerns
Bullying is ranked fourth overall among childhood health concerns. Hispanics, however, rank it second while African-Americans don’t rank it in the top five.

Adults across the United States rate childhood obesity as the top health care concern for children in 2013, but priorities vary based on racial and ethnic backgrounds, according to a University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital national poll on children’s health.

Overall, the top three childhood concerns were obesity, drug abuse and smoking and tobacco use. Hispanics also ranked childhood obesity at number one, but ranked bullying number two and drug abuse third.

Among African-Americans, the differences are more striking. This group ranks childhood obesity sixth. Smoking and tobacco use is first, followed by drug abuse and school violence. Sexually transmitted diseases came in fourth and teen pregnancy fifth.

These differences, based on racial and ethnic background, did not surprise Almira Contractor, M.D., pediatrician at the York Hospital Community Health Center.

“The national poll results reflect the reality of what’s important to that child at that time,” she said. “If parents feel a child is unsafe, obesity may not be a critical issue for them.”

The Top 10 childhood concerns:
  • Childhood obesity
  • Drug abuse
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Bullying
  • Stress
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Internet safety
  • Depression

Contractor said the poll results will help providers at the York Hospital Community Health Center.

“One of the things we strive to do is to build a rapport with parents, and one of the ways to do that is to let them know that we understand their perspective. We don’t want to be dismissive of their concerns.”

Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, said, “Medical and public health providers should be aware that different communities could have different priorities about what health problems are most important.”

He added, “Not all groups see through the same lens. To be successful, programs will likely need to respect and address community-specific health priorities for improving and safeguarding child health.”

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