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Breaking Down Child Health Disparities in NYC

A child’s long-term health and well-being is shaped by the conditions in which he or she is born, grows, lives, works, and ages. These circumstances are greatly influenced by access to resources and supports that help families to meet the individual needs of their children.

CCC recently presented an overview of the “social determinants of health,” a term defined by the World Health Organization to reference the inherent, though not apparent, link of several indicators – including education, environmental conditions, nutrition, and cultural capital – to health outcomes.

The presentation highlights the ways in which New York City has made strides over the past decade in improving children’s health, as illustrated in our own Keeping Track, as well as the disparities that persist among racial and ethnic communities, as well as geographically. Among the data included:

  • Over the last decade, the citywide rate of infant mortality has declined by 27 percent; however, the infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black mothers remains nearly double the citywide average. This is compounded by the fact that Black women report late or no access to prenatal care significantly more often than white women (12.1% compared to 3.8%).  (See slide 9 and 10.)
  • While we have begun to see progress in reducing childhood obesity, it remains an epidemic that the City must focus on, particularly in resource-scarce communities. In 2011, 20.7% of elementary and middle school children were reported to be obese, with rates exceeding the citywide average reported among Black and Latino children, and among children living in the Bronx and Staten Island. The ethnic and geographic disparities are evidence that more work needs to be done to improve access to healthy food options. (See slide 20.)
  • Since 2001, the citywide asthma-related hospitalization rate for children under 15 years has fallen from 6.5 visits per 1,000 youth to 5.1 visits per 1,000 youth; however, rates far exceeding this average are reported for each neighborhood in the Bronx, with some neighborhoods hovering at or over twice the citywide rate. These disparities can be attributed to environmental conditions including poor air quality, problems with indoor allergens including pests, and general overcrowding. (See slide 11.)

Considering the historically high child poverty rates in New York City, with 30% of children living at the federal poverty level and in some communities nearly 60%, it is imperative that we use the information available to us to advance strategies that address the full spectrum of social determinants impacting health outcomes both directly and indirectly.

Our Recommendations to Make New York City a Better Place for Every Child identifies concrete tactics to ensure that all children and their families have access to quality health and mental health services in their communities, including expanding access to school-based health and mental health services, integrating mental health programming in early childhood settings, and ensuring that statewide Medicaid reforms allow for expansion of community-based services. Our recommendations also include initiatives aimed at promoting safe environments for physical education, increasing usage of school and summer meals programs, and access to healthy and affordable foods in high-need communities.

Know the Facts, Share the Facts and Be Part of the Solution

Learn more about our Recommendations to Make New York City a Better Place for Every Child.

Explore our comprehensive Keeping Track Online database on the well-being of New York City’s children.

You can help raise awareness about these critical issues by sharing this blog by email or on Facebook or Twitter.

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