Check Up

How healthy are Maryland’s children? Since 1990, the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation has compiled all sorts of data that provide snapshots of the health of children in every state. Each summer, the foundation publishes a KIDS COUNT data book that reports on 16 indicators in the areas of health, family/community, education and economics, says senior communications manager Beau Boughamer. Researchers are currently working on the 2018 edition of KIDS COUNT, which will be published on June 27. Online, the foundation reports even more statistics, which are used year round by policymakers, institutions, child advocacy groups and politicians.

To compile the data, the foundation relies on the help of partner organizations in each state. In Maryland, the Baltimore-based Advocates for Children and Youth assists in data gathering. Research director Nonso Umunna says the group always considers some statistics, such as high school graduation and dropout rates or the percentage of children who have health insurance. Other statistics are studied because they relate to the organization’s work. One example of their advocacy: The organization has spoken out in favor of increased access to dental care for children who receive Medicaid.

To put the numbers into perspective, you should know that about 6 million people live in Maryland and 1.3 million of them are children aged 18 and under, according to the U.S. Census. —Baltimore’s Child Staff

General Health

  • 94% of the state’s children are in excellent or very good health
  • 19% have special health care needs
  • 19% have behavioral, emotional or developmental conditions
  • 12% of births are pre-term

Healthy Lifestyle

  • 49% of Maryland children and teens exercise regularly
  • 34% of children ages 10 to 17 are overweight
  • 83% have received preventative dental health in the past year
  • Only 4% of children ages 18 or younger do not have health insurance

Household Life

  • 66% live in two-parent households
  • 19% speak a language other than English in the home
  • 15% have experienced two or more adverse situations in their young lives, including frequent economic hardship, divorce, parent death, parent incarceration, family violence, neighborhood violence, living with someone who is mentally ill, living with someone who has a substance abuse problem, or racial bias
  • 5% live in unsafe communities

Source: KIDS COUNT, Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Latest Pediatric Research

Here are some of the topics that physicians and researchers right here in Baltimore are currently studying.

>> While a majority of pediatricians agree that parental health is a big factor in the health of their children, few felt responsible for addressing these issues, according to a study from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

More than 200 pediatric primary care physicians were surveyed; researchers found that 75 percent encountered at least one parental health issue, such as maternal depression or parental tobacco use, during a check-up. But few of the doctors fully addressed the issues. Lack of time and difficulty referring patients to related services were two reasons.

>> Overall diet patterns may be a better predictor of health risk than individual foods or nutrients, according to research conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Using data collected from 317 African-American adolescents from a low-income, urban community in Baltimore, researchers considered nutritional intake, body composition and other measures. They found that the diets of their subjects did not reach nutritional recommendations, which puts these participants at an increased risk for chronic disease in adulthood. This is a “pressing public health concern,” researchers wrote.

>> A new Johns Hopkins study of mice links intestinal bacteria to obesity and insulin resistance in mammals, including people. Researchers are looking for ways to control this bacteria and related genes to prevent obesity in children and adults.

>> University of Maryland’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center is offering free Stop the Bleed classes to area residents who want to learn how to recognize and stop life-threatening bleeding. The one-hour class covers how to apply a tourniquet and how to pack a wound, among other topics. For more information, visit umm.edu/StopTheBleed.

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