Children and Health Disparities - Children's Environmental Health Network (2022)

Children and Health Disparities

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All children, wherever they live, are affected by environmental hazards. Pollution and environmental degradation know no county, state, regional, or national border; contaminants are transported around the world. However, there are existing disparities in children’s health that are a direct product of poverty and structural racism. Children from low-income communities and communities of color often have greater risk of exposures to pollution, higher levels of contaminants in their bodies, and more illness or disability such as asthma and learning disabilities.

(Video) NEEF Children's Environmental Health Series: Day 1, Closing the Gap in Achieving Health Equity

The issue of poverty in the United States (U.S.) is tied intimately with the issue of race. Over the past 30 years, the average wealth of white families has grown by 84%--1.2 times the growth rate for Hispanic families and 3 times the growth rate for black families. Indeed, research indicates that the average black family would need 228 years to build the wealth of the average white family if current economic trends continue. For the average Hispanic family, achieving parity would take 84 years. [1]

Individuals and families living in higher income communities have the resources, power, and the time to fight against the siting of hazardous facilities or industry near their neighborhoods. Wealthy individuals are also able to afford homes in neighborhoods that exist farther away from polluting sources. However, a sole focus to address socioeconomic factors may be insufficient to reduce certain pollution exposures equitably. [2] Due to lower average household incomes but also other discriminatory factors that influence residential segregation [3], communities of color are more likely to reside in inadequate and unsafe housing and in neighborhoods that tend to be closer in proximity to polluting industrial facilities and high traffic roads. A seminal 1987 study and report, published by the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, showed that race was a major factor in the placement of hazardous waste facilities. [4] In California, for example, all three of California's Class I toxic waste dumps are in or near Hispanic communities. The follow-up report, a 2007 publication prepared for the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, revealed that little had changed with regard to the racial and socioeconomic disparities of commercial hazardous waste facility siting. It was also the first national-level study to support the claim that hazardous waste facilities are disproportionately sited in low-income and minority communities. [5]

(Video) NEEF Children's Environmental Health Series: Day 2, Climate, Air Quality, and Children’s Health

Higher levels of pollution in the environment does not always result in increased exposure at the personal level and greater accumulation of toxics within individuals’ bodies. However, biological monitoring shows that children from low income communities or communities of color do experience greater body burdens of certain toxicants. A 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found higher blood lead levels among black and Hispanic children than among white children. [6] More than twice the number of black children had elevated blood lead levels as white children of the same age. A systematic review of the literature, published in 2016, confirmed that black children had the highest mean blood lead level among the levels reported for black, white, and Hispanic children. [7] CDC data from 1999-2014 show that black and Hispanic children are consistently found to have higher levels of mercury in their blood than white children aged 1-5 in the U.S. [8]

Higher body burdens of toxics increase the risk of developing certain diseases or disabilities, and children of color and from low income families do experience disproportionate adverse health outcomes. For example, the burdens of asthma fall more heavily on black and Hispanic children. As of 2015, black children (regardless of family income) reported higher rates of asthma according to the Office of Minority Health. [9] Black children are reportedly four times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma, and 10 times more likely to die of asthma than white children. Learning disabilities such as dyslexia or impaired social skills are also more common among children from families with lower incomes. Child Trends reported that in 2013, 12% of children living in families below the poverty line were identified as having a learning disability, compared to 6% of other children. [10]

(Video) Minority Health Disparities | Michelle's Story

Furthermore, children from underserved communities and communities of color are more susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change. This is due to inadequate investments in their neighborhoods, poor infrastructure, and residential segregation. Many are forced to live near hazardous waste sites, coal fired power plants, or polluting industry which often present significant exposure crises during natural disasters. Many in these communities lack the social and economic resources necessary to either relocate or to purchase the necessary materials or services to adapt to climate change where they are. As a result, low-income and non-white children are at higher risk of suffering during extreme weather events, either due to direct harm from natural disasters, or through potential increased air or drinking water pollution, food contamination, or from displacement, among other effects. [11] To read more on climate change and children’s health, click here.

As of 2016, 19% of all children in the U.S. live in poverty. By race and ethnicity, this amounts to 34% of black children and 28% of Hispanic children, compared with 12% of white children. [12] Mounting evidence indicates that additional issues related to poverty, such as lack of access to quality health care, malnutrition or undernutrition, and prolonged periods of adversity or toxic stress, can compound the harmful effects of environmental exposures on children’s health. [13, 14] We cannot make adequate progress on improving environmental health for all children without first addressing matters of poverty for children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and across all zip codes, as well as the underlying issues of structural racism which perpetuate wealth and health disparities for children of color.

(Video) Impact of Community Doulas on Reducing Health Disparities in Maternal and Child Health Populations

References:

  1. Muhammed, D. A., Collins, C., Hoxie, J., & Nieves, E. (2016, August). The Ever-Growing Gap: Without Change, African-American and Latino Families Won't Match White Wealth for Centuries. Retrieved December 12, 2017, from http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/The-Ever-Growing-Gap-CFED_IPS-Final-2.pdf
  2. Mikati, BS, et al. (2018). Disparities in Distribution of Particulate Matter Emission Sources by Race and Poverty Status. American Journal of Public Health. Retrieved February 22, 2018 from http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304297?journalCode=ajph.
  3. Park, YM & Kwan, MP. (2017). Multi-Contextual Segregation and Environmental Justice Research: Toward Fine-Scale Spatiotemporal Approaches. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 14(10): 1205. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664706/.
  4. Chavez, B. F., Jr., & Lee, C. (1987). Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/unitedchurchofchrist/legacy_url/13567/toxwrace87.pdf?1418439935
  5. Bullard, R. D., Mohai, P., Saha, R., & Wright, B. (2007, March). Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007. Retrieved November 16, 2017, from https://www.ejnet.org/ej/twart.pdf
  6. Lead Screening and Prevalence of Blood Lead Levels in Children Aged 1–2 Years — Child Blood Lead Surveillance System, United States, 2002–2010 and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, United States, 1999–2010. (2014, September 12). Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6302a6.htm
  7. White, B M, et al. “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Childhood Blood Lead Levels Among Children <72 Months of Age in the United States: a Systematic Review of the Literature.”Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26896114.
  8. CDC. 2017b. Fourth national report on human exposure to environmental chemicals, updated tables,January 2017, volume 1. https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/pdf/FourthReport_UpdatedTables_Volume1_Jan2017.pdf(PDF) (656 pp, 19.6MB).
  9. Office of Minority Health. (2017, March 31). Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=15
  10. Learning Disabilities. (2014, August). Retrieved November 30, 2017, from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/learning-disabilities/
  11. Morello-Frosch, R., PhD, MPH, Pastor, M., PhD, Sadd, J., PhD, & Shonkoff, S. B., MPH. (2009, May). The Climate Gap - Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap. Retrieved December 12, 2017, from https://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/242/docs/The_Climate_Gap_Full_Report_FINAL.pdf
  12. Children in poverty by race and ethnicity | KIDS COUNT Data Center.”KIDS COUNT data center: A project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Sept. 2017, datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/44-children-in-poverty-by-race-and ethnicity#detailed/1/any/false/870/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/324,323
  13. Massey, R. (2004). Environmental Justice: Income, Race, and Health. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/education_materials/modules/Environmental_Justice.pdf
  14. Adler T. 2009. A Complex Relationship: Psychosocial Stress, Pollution, and Health. Environ Health Perspect 117:A407;http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.117-a407a
(Video) Protecting Children's Environmental Health: Early Care and Learning Settings

FAQs

What are the 5 health disparities? ›

Examples of Health Disparities
  • Mortality.
  • Life expectancy.
  • Burden of disease.
  • Mental health.
  • Uninsured/underinsured.
  • Lack of access to care.

How can health disparities influence child health? ›

Research suggests that many disparities in overall health and well-being are rooted in early childhood. For example, those who lived in poverty as young children are more at-risk for leading causes of illness and death, and are more likely to experience poor quality of life.

What are environmental health disparities? ›

Environmental health disparities exist when communities exposed to a combination of poor environmental quality and social inequities have more sickness and disease than wealthier, less polluted communities.

How are children affected by environmental health? ›

A child's body may not be able to break down and get rid of harmful contaminants that enter their body. Health problems from an environmental exposure can take years to develop. Because they are young, children have more time to develop health conditions and diseases than adults who are exposed later in their life.

What are health disparities examples? ›

Health and health care disparities are often viewed through the lens of race and ethnicity, but they occur across a broad range of dimensions. For example, disparities occur across socioeconomic status, age, geography, language, gender, disability status, citizenship status, and sexual identity and orientation.

What is the difference between health disparities and healthcare disparities? ›

“A 'health disparity' refers to a higher burden of illness, injury, disability, or mortality experienced by one group relative to another. A 'health care disparity' typically refers to differences between groups in health insurance coverage, access to and use of care, and quality of care.”

Why are there inequalities in childrens health? ›

Children and health inequalities

Health is influenced by the distribution of income, wealth and power within a society which are in turn influenced by the social, economic and political structures.

What is one health disparity that can affect children of low income households? ›

Poverty and low-income status are associated with various adverse health outcomes, including shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates, and higher death rates for the 14 leading causes of death. Individual- and community-level mechanisms mediate these effects.

What factors influence children's health? ›

The KIDS COUNT Data Book mentions, “exposure to violence, family stress, inadequate housing, lack of preventive health care, poor nutrition, poverty and substance abuse” as direct factors in undermining a child's health. When a child has good health, they are likely to have better outcomes in school and beyond.

What factors contribute to health disparities? ›

Many factors contribute to health disparities, including genetics, access to care, poor quality of care, community features (e.g., inadequate access to healthy foods, poverty, limited personal support systems and violence), environmental conditions (e.g., poor air quality), language barriers and health behaviors.

What are environmental health problems? ›

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS & HEALTH EFFECTS

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS CAN AFFECT HUMAN HEALTH. Environmental hazards—like water and air pollution, extreme weather, or chemical exposures—can affect human health in a number of ways, from contributing to chronic diseases like cancer or to acute illnesses like heat exhaustion.

What is an example of environmental health? ›

Clean air, stable climate, adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, safe use of chemicals, protection from radiation, healthy and safe workplaces, sound agricultural practices, health-supportive cities and built environments, and a preserved nature are all prerequisites for good health.

What are 2 reasons why children are considered an environmentally sensitive population? ›

Children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental risks:
  • Children are constantly growing. ...
  • Children's systems are still developing. ...
  • Children behave differently from adults and this means there are different ways they can be exposed to environmental risks. ...
  • Children have little control over their environment.

How do environmental factors affect child development? ›

Research shows a link between the home environment and children's development of self-regulation. The home environment can directly impact children's ability to control or direct their attention, thoughts, emotions and actions in childhood, UCL Institute of Education (IOE) research reveals.

What factors make children more vulnerable to environmental exposures? ›

Increased vulnerability results from children's rapidly growing and developing organ systems, such as the central nervous system and lung which, compared with adults are especially susceptible to toxic insults. Exposure to the same chemical may cause different health outcomes in children compared with adults.

How can we reduce health disparities? ›

Education And Early Childhood. Improving access to high-quality education likely improves health. Early childhood interventions, such as early childhood education and parental support programs, have positive health impacts and help address economic disadvantage and health disparities.

What are the 3 P's of health equity? ›

Our health equity principles are categorized by the three 3 Ps: People, Place, and Partnerships.

Why is it important to understand health disparities? ›

The negative repercussions of health disparities go beyond just the individual and extend to their children, whole communities, and society at large. Disparities in health and healthcare not only affect the groups facing disparities, but also limit overall gains in quality of care and health for the broader population.

What is not an example of health disparity? ›

Examples of health differences that are not health disparities include worse health among the elderly compared with young adults, a higher rate of arm injuries among professional tennis players than in the general population, or, hypothetically, a higher rate of a particular disease among millionaires than non- ...

What factor is often considered the most fundamental cause of health disparities? ›

We tend to study health inequalities as differentials in disease and death that exist within a population. But the most important cause of health inequality is social stratification, and social stratification only varies between populations.

What are social determinants of health and health disparities? ›

Social determinants of health such as poverty, unequal access to health care, lack of education, stigma, and racism are underlying, contributing factors of health inequities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to achieving improvements in people's lives by reducing health inequities.

What are social inequalities children? ›

The most marked inequalities among Young Lives children relate to household wealth, urban-rural location, belonging to an ethnic/language minority or low-caste group, and level of parental education.

What is inequality in childhood? ›

Through the lottery of birth, children are born into different socio-economic circumstances and grow up in environments that are remarkably different from each other. These deep environmental inequalities are present in a multitude of dimensions including educational, emotional and material environments.

What are the effects of health inequalities? ›

It leads to worsened outcomes not just for the people it directly affects, but also for those with more power and resources. For example, health inequity: makes it more difficult to contain and treat infectious diseases. increases levels of crime and violence across communities.

How does poverty contribute to health disparities? ›

For example, people with limited finances may have more difficulty obtaining health insurance or paying for expensive procedures and medications. In addition, neighborhood factors, such as limited access to healthy foods and higher instances of violence, can affect health by influencing health behaviors and stress.

What might be the greatest challenge to reducing inequities in health care? ›

Answer and Explanation: The inequality of social factors such as; income, education, gender, and employment among others, among people, are the major causes of health care inequalities. The lower the socioeconomic position of any individual, the more their chances of receiving poor healthcare increase.

What are the factors that would most determine the health of a poor person in a low income country? ›

For instance, those who come from lower socioeconomic status are more likely to develop health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Some factors that affect these individuals and their health are food insecurity, financial stability, and healthcare access.

What is the most influential factor negatively affecting the health status of children? ›

Social factors have profound effects on health. Children are especially vulnerable to social influences, particularly in their early years. Adverse social exposures in childhood can lead to chronic disorders later in life.

What are the social determinants of health for children? ›

Healthy People 2030 organizes the social determinants of health into 5 domains:
  • Economic Stability.
  • Education Access and Quality.
  • Health Care Access and Quality.
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment.
  • Social and Community Context.

Which patient is most likely to experience a health care disparity? ›

Which individual is most likely to experience health care disparities? Being older, being a minority, living in a rural area, and being of male gender are risk factors for experiencing health care disparities.

What are the 3 types of environmental health? ›

It consists of three categories: health impacts, air quality, and water and sanitation.

What are the 7 core concepts of environmental health? ›

“To understand the field of environmental health, you need to understand seven core concepts: Toxicity, Exposure, Dose/Response, Individual Susceptibility, Risks & Benefits, Environmental Justice, and Community Resources & Action.”

What are the 5 environmental factors? ›

Air, water, climate, soil, natural vegetation and landforms are all environmental factors. By definition, the environmental factors affect everyday living, and play a key role in bringing health differences across the geographic areas.

What is a healthy environment for a child? ›

Healthy schools provide plenty of light and fresh air, and use building materials that do not pose hazards to children. Parks and green spaces are another example of the built environment that contributes to the health of children.

What are the 10 environmental factors? ›

10: Environmental Factors
  • Osmolarity.
  • pH.
  • Temperature.
  • Oxygen Concentration.
  • Pressure.
  • Radiation. Key Words. Essential Questions/Objectives. Exploratory Questions (OPTIONAL)
3 Jan 2021

What are the 4 types of environmental hazards? ›

Types of Environmental Hazards

To better understand them, we can think of them as falling into four categories: physical, chemical, biological, and cultural.

What are the main determinants in health disparities? ›

Social determinants of health such as poverty, unequal access to health care, lack of education, stigma, and racism are underlying, contributing factors of health inequities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to achieving improvements in people's lives by reducing health inequities.

What are the main health disparities of healthy aging? ›

Health disparities are associated with a broad, complex, and interrelated array of factors, and may reflect:
  • Age.
  • Race.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Socioeconomic status.
  • Disability status.
  • Identity and expression* (e.g.,gender, racial, ethnic)
  • Geographic location (e.g., rural or urban environment)
  • Education.

Why are there health disparities? ›

There is ample evidence that social factors, including education, employment status, income level, gender and ethnicity have a marked influence on how healthy a person is. In all countries – whether low-, middle- or high-income – there are wide disparities in the health status of different social groups.

What are racial disparities in healthcare? ›

The term "health disparities" is often defined as "a difference in which disadvantaged social groups such as the poor, racial/ethnic minorities, women and other groups who have persistently experienced social disadvantage or discrimination systematically experience worse health or greater health risks than more ...

What are four factors that contribute to health disparities? ›

Health disparities result from multiple factors, including
  • Poverty.
  • Environmental threats.
  • Inadequate access to health care.
  • Individual and behavioral factors.
  • Educational inequalities.

Who is at risk for a health disparity? ›

Populations with Health Disparities

Racial and ethnic minority groups (see OMB Directive 15). People with lower socioeconomic status (SES). Underserved rural communities. Sexual and gender minority (SGM) groups.

What are the 4 major factors that affect the health of a community? ›

These include things like housing, financial security, community safety, employment, education and the environment. These are known as the wider determinants of health.

How can health disparities be reduced? ›

Education And Early Childhood. Improving access to high-quality education likely improves health. Early childhood interventions, such as early childhood education and parental support programs, have positive health impacts and help address economic disadvantage and health disparities.

How can you reduce health inequalities? ›

Drive a fairer share of income, power and wealth through policy, legislation, regulation and taxation. Ensure fair and equitable access to good quality housing, education, health and other public services. Ensure all public services are planned and delivered in proportion to need.

Are health disparities inevitable? ›

Health inequalities are not inevitable and can be significantly reduced”, concluded the 2010 Marmot Review. 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are key social determinants of health.

What are the five factors that can cause health disparities? ›

Many factors contribute to health disparities, including genetics, access to care, poor quality of care, community features (e.g., inadequate access to healthy foods, poverty, limited personal support systems and violence), environmental conditions (e.g., poor air quality), language barriers and health behaviors.

What are the 3 P's of health equity? ›

Our health equity principles are categorized by the three 3 Ps: People, Place, and Partnerships.

How do health disparities affect our community? ›

Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic -status, gender, age, or mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity ...

How can racial disparities be reduced? ›

Build Back Better Reduces Racial Disparities
  1. Cut poverty — especially among children — and narrow long-standing racial disparities in child poverty. ...
  2. Reduce homelessness and housing instability. ...
  3. Expand health coverage and access to care. ...
  4. Improve access to preschool and child care.
4 Nov 2021

What might be the greatest challenge to reducing inequities in health care? ›

Answer and Explanation: The inequality of social factors such as; income, education, gender, and employment among others, among people, are the major causes of health care inequalities. The lower the socioeconomic position of any individual, the more their chances of receiving poor healthcare increase.

What are the health disparities that exist for African American? ›

Compared to their white counterparts, African Americans are generally at higher risk for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, according to the Office of Minority Health, part of the Department for Health and Human Services.

Videos

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3. Health and healthcare disparities in the US | Social Inequality | MCAT | Khan Academy
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