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Family Income Impacts Children's Health
Date:10/8/2008

Big gaps exist between states, and between poor, middle- and upper-class families, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- For American children, the state they live in and their family's income and education may help determine how healthy they are, a new survey shows.

Among children aged 17 and younger, 16 percent are in less than optimal health, according to the state-by-state survey from the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

But that rate ranged widely by state: from 22.8 percent of children in Texas to only 6.9 percent of children in Vermont.

"Child health is a foundation for his or hers health throughout life," Dr. Paula Braveman, director of the Center on Social Disparities in Health at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author of the report, said during a Tuesday teleconference. "So, the health of our children is not only an important concern in itself, it's a very important indicator of the health of the nation."

The report, America's Health Starts With Healthy Children: How Do States Compare?, provides new evidence that children in the United States are not as healthy as they could be, Braveman said.

"This report shows how much healthier kids in each state could be if we narrow the gap between the children of the wealthiest, most educated families and everyone else," she said.

"The report spotlights poverty as a cause of ill health in kids, and downplays the role of health insurance," said Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians For A National Health Program. "Poverty, however, is a lack of access to resources, and one resource that many poor children cannot access is health care. Lack of adequate health insurance forces parents to go without care for themselves and their kids. While figuring out how to end poverty is complex, figuring out how to achieve universal a
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