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Women


Air Pollution, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Air Pollution, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Air pollution is associated with heart and lung problems and even premature death. Large pollutant particles in the air can cause irritation and discomfort, while small, fine pollutants from sources such as auto exhaust or power plants can penetrate deeply into lung tissue and enter the bloodstream. The environment is also impacted by air pollution, as particles are carried from one area to another. Examples include increasing acidification in lakes and streams and changing nutrient patterns in soil. 

Exposure to fine particle air pollution, including from wildfires, has been linked to problems with respiratory and cardiovascular functions, including:

  • Decreased lung function.
  • Asthma.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Heart attack.
  • Early death in those suffering from heart disease or lung disease. 

Air pollution of fine particulate matter originating from human activity was estimated to be responsible for 107,000 premature deaths in 2011. The same study found the cost to society was an estimated $886 billion. The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reports the costs and benefits of federal regulations. OMB found that regulations issued between 2004 and 2014 to limit air pollution by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) generated between $157 billion and $777 billion (in 2010 dollars) in benefits to the U.S. economy, mainly by reducing the health risks of exposure to fine particulate matter.

Source:
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2015-2017



Frequent Mental Distress - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Frequent Mental Distress - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

A healthy mental state is essential to overall positive health and well-being. Frequent mental distress aims to capture the population experiencing persistent, and likely severe, mental health issues, defined by 14 or more days of poor mental health a month. There is a strong relationship between the 14-day period and clinically diagnosed mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Populations suffering from severe mental illness and frequent mental distress have a higher prevalence of risky health behaviors, including smoking, alcohol use, unhealthy diet and lack of free-time physical activity. These health behaviors are known to increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Certain factors that cause stress, such as housing insecurity, food insecurity and insufficient sleep, are also related to frequent mental distress. In some cases, poor mental health can lead to suicide, the third-leading cause of death among females ages 1-19 and the fourth-leading cause of death among females ages 20-44

Severe mental distress can also lead to costly treatments or missed economic opportunities. Among pregnant women and their children, untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders cost the United States $14 billion from lost productivity and $201 billion from the treatment of diagnosed individuals in 2017.

Source:
  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016-2017



Severe Housing Problems, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Severe Housing Problems, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Housing influences health and well-being. Those lacking at least one basic household necessity (bathtub/shower, sink with faucet, stove, or refrigerator) have higher rates of being uninsured. Poor quality of housing can cause disease and injury and affect a child’s development, while other housing-related factors such as neighborhood environment and overcrowding can lead to mental and physical health problems. 

Housing-related factors and their associated health consequences include, but are not limited to:

  • Affordability: Cost-burdened families may have difficulty affording other basic needs such as health care, food and heat. Individuals who had difficulty affording housing were more likely to report fair or poor health, certain chronic conditions and non-adherence to prescriptions due to cost. Housing has become less affordable over time as rents have risen more quickly than incomes. Between 2001 and 2019, median rent increased by 15.0%, but median renter household income rose only 3.4% over the same period (numbers adjusted for inflation). This finding underscores the continued importance of federal and local housing subsidies. Nearly 10 million renters were severely cost-burdened in 2018, paying more than 50% of their income toward rent. 
  • Hazards: Hazards in the home (such as lead paint, allergens, water leaks, poor ventilation and inadequate heating, cooling or plumbing) are associated with poor respiratory health and disease, increased risk of cardiovascular conditions and developmental delays in children. 
  • Overcrowding: Overcrowding is defined as having more than one person per room in a residence. It is associated with an increased risk of poor mental health and physical illness, such as tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
Source:
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy, 2011-2015

Infants


Flourishing (Ages 0-5), 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Flourishing - Ages 6 mo-5 yr, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

It is not enough for children to meet developmental milestones and be physically healthy. Children should thrive and flourish, even despite adversity, on their way to reaching their full potential as adults. Flourishing is a measure of how well children function and thrive within their family and community, including a child’s curiosity, resilience, and self-regulation. Flourishing in children is associated with higher levels of school engagement. Attributes of flourishing have been linked with fewer risky health behaviors during adolescence.

While multiple definitions of flourishing exist, the National Survey of Children’s Health has four criteria for flourishing in children ages 0-5 including:

  • Child is affectionate and tender
  • Child bounces back quickly when things don’t go his/her way
  • Child shows interest and curiosity in learning new things
  • Child smiles and laughs a lot
Source:
  • U.S. HHS, HRSA, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), National Survey of Children's Health Indicator Data Set, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, 2016


Children

Asthma, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Asthma, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

People who have moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus disease (COVID-19). For more information about COVID-19 see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

Asthma is a serious chronic disease that affects the airways. It can cause wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing. Not everyone who has asthma has these symptoms and having these symptoms doesn't always mean someone has asthma. If not properly-treated, asthma can be life-threatening.

An estimated 5 million children in the United States currently have asthma. Some children have asthma throughout their life, while others do not -- some people only have symptoms during childhood and in some cases symptoms may go away for a few years and return in adulthood.

There are many risk factors for childhood asthma, including:

  • Having allergies or a family history of allergies
  • Getting frequent respiratory infections
  • Low birthweight 
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Growing up in a low income environment

Asthma in children has negative educational and economic impacts. One study found that children who have asthma miss an additional 2.3 days of school compared to their peers without asthma. Pediatric asthma is estimated to cost the healthcare system a total of $5.92 billion in 2015 dollars.

Source:
  • National Survey of Children's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), 2016-2017



Children in Poverty, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Children in Poverty, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Families with income below the federal poverty level may struggle to consistently meet the basic needs of their children. Exposure to chronic stress, including unreliable access to food, health care and stable housing, may impair the development of children in poverty and can affect their health at any stage: 

  • Birth: Mothers living in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to give birth prematurely and have low birthweight babies.
  • Childhood: Obesity, asthma and emergency room visits are more common among children living in poverty compared with those not living in poverty.
  • Adolescence: Students experiencing poverty are significantly less likely to graduate high school

Living in poverty affects a child’s ability to succeed in school and may impact potential future earnings. One estimate of the cost of U.S. childhood poverty totaled $1.03 trillion annually, factoring in lost potential earnings and costs of poor health.

Source:
  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017



Detracting Neighborhood Elements, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Detracting Neighborhood Elements, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

The health of individuals and communities is closely tied to the built environment around them. A well-known example is the broken-window theory, proposed in 1982, which suggests that physical and social disorder within communities leads to fear and causes citizens to withdraw from the community. This weakens social controls and may lead to more serious crime, which in turn, leads to more disorder. Consideration of the physical conditions of a neighborhood is essential when assessing the overall health and well-being of its residents, particularly children, as stressful or traumatic events in childhood may have lasting impacts throughout the life course.

 

Detracting neighborhood elements, such as blighted housing, litter, and vandalism, are associated with negative neighborhood perceptions and low perceived safety, all of which contribute to:

Source:
  • U.S. HHS, HRSA, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), National Survey of Children's Health Indicator Data Set, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, 2016-2017



Flourishing (Ages 6-17), 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Flourishing - Ages 6-17, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

It is not enough for children to meet developmental milestones and be physically healthy. Children should thrive and flourish, even despite adversity, on their way to reaching their full potential as adults. Flourishing is a measure of how well children function and thrive within their family and community, including a child’s curiosity, resilience, and self-regulation. Flourishing in children is associated with higher levels of school engagement. Attributes of flourishing have been linked with fewer risky health behaviors during adolescence.

While multiple definitions of flourishing exist, the National Survey of Children’s Health has three criteria for flourishing among children ages 6-17 including:

  • Showing interest and curiosity in learning new things
  • Working to finish tasks he or she starts
  • Staying calm and in control when faced with a challenge
Source:
  • U.S. HHS, HRSA, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), National Survey of Children's Health Indicator Data Set, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, 2016



Housing With Potential Lead Risk, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Housing With Lead Risk, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Lead, a naturally occurring heavy metal, is a highly toxic environmental exposure, especially to young children and pregnant women. Once lead enters the bloodstream, it can mimic calcium and zinc and disrupt every organ system in the body. Lead can be found in many places, including in older homes, some water pipes and soil. There is no known safe level of lead exposure and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the blood lead reference value to 3.5 μg/dL. Blood lead levels of concern (i.e. above 10 mg/dL) may cause reduced intelligence, impaired hearing and reduced stature, and other adverse health outcomes. Even lower levels, below 10 mg/dL in children, have shown adverse health effects on intellectual function (i.e. IQ), attention-related behaviors and academic and cognitive skills.

Lead exposure among children most frequently occurs through ingestion or inhalation of contaminated house paint, house dust, soil, and water. Pregnant women who have high blood lead levels also may expose their babies to lead, which may cause miscarriages, low birthweight infants, preterm births and other birth defects. 

Housing built before 1978 carries an elevated risk for lead exposure, and housing built before 1950 has the highest risk of lead exposure. Due to a ban on lead-based paint in 1978, housing built after this year carries minimal risk. The American Healthy Homes Survey estimated that 89% of homes built before 1978 had lead-based paint, equaling about 30 million homes nationwide. Over 3 million homes with children younger than age 6 had one or more lead-based paint hazards. The survey also found that homes in the Midwest and Northeast had the highest level of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, such as dust, peeling paint or soil with lead. An investment of $1 in lead paint hazard control in communities at high risk can provide a return of $17- $221.

Source:
  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017



Mental Health Care - Children, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Mental Health Care - Children, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Adolescents have the highest burden of mental health conditions of all age groups. About half of all adolescents ages 13-18 reported having a mental health condition, and one in five had a debilitating mental health condition. This makes adolescence a critical time to identify and treat mental conditions as half of all mental health conditions start by age 14 and treatment can lead to:

  • Increased educational attainment
  • Fewer negative interactions with the juvenile justice system
  • Better social skills, improved physical health and improved mental health.

Unfortunately, about half of all youths that need treatment for a mental health condition do not receive it. The cost to society of this failure is enormous. In 2017, 7.4 percent of teens in grades 9-12 reported attempting suicide at least once. Diagnosing and treating youths mental health conditions early has lifelong benefits to both the individual and society. Among the incarcerated, more than a quarter of those with symptoms of a mental health condition had never been diagnosed with one. It is estimated that mental health disorders cost the United States $193.2 billion every year in lost earnings alone. While not all of these costs are preventable, a large number of youth initiatives have been shown to be helpful and cost-effective.

Source:
  • U.S. HHS, HRSA, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), National Survey of Children's Health Indicator Data Set, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, 2016-2017



Preventive Dental Care - Children, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Preventive Dental Care - Children, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Oral health is a vital component of overall health. Cavities are a common problem among children in the U.S. If left untreated, oral health issues can lead to school absences and poor academic outcomes. Poor oral health during early childhood can impact health into adolescence and adulthood, including increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease

Early preventive dental visits can prevent many oral health problems. For example, dental sealants can prevent 80% of back teeth cavities in children. Early regular dental check-ups are particularly cost-effective and beneficial for children in high-risk populations.

Source:
  • U.S. HHS, HRSA, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), National Survey of Children's Health Indicator Data Set, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, 2016-2017



Students Experiencing Homelessnes, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Students Experiencing Homelessness, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Homelessness and housing instability can contribute to poor health among all people, especially children and adolescents. Homelessness can contribute to the worsening of chronic conditions. Common health problems among homeless children and youth include:

  • Greater incidence of illness and injury.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
  • Mental health problems and substance use.
  • Increased risk of poor nutrition, heart disease and diabetes.

Many homeless children attend school. During the 2016-2017 school year, nearly 1.4 million students were identified by schools as homeless. Families with children made up about 30% of the total homeless population in 2020, with nearly 54,000 family households experiencing homelessness in one single night. Unaccompanied youth made up over 6% of the total population of people experiencing homelessness; 9.9% were children under the age of 18. 

When students experience instability in their home lives due to homelessness, school is often a place of safety and security. School provides students with a sense of belonging, a consistent and caring environment, and the security of an organized and predictable daily schedule. School also provides basics that some students may not have access to at home, like breakfast and lunch. As schools continue to increase their focus on producing academically and professionally prepared graduates, education also becomes an increasingly clear path out of poverty and homelessness.

Source:
  • U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Homeless Education, Federal Data Summary, 2016

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