This initiative encourages research that targets the reduction of health disparities among children. Specific targeted areas of research include biobehavioral studies that incorporate multiple factors that influence child health disparities such as biological (e.g., genetics, cellular, organ systems), lifestyle factors, environmental (e.g., physical and family environments) social (e.g., peers), economic, institutional, and cultural and family influences; studies that target the specific health promotion needs of children with a known health condition and/or disability; and studies that test and evaluate the comparative effectiveness of health promotion interventions conducted in traditional and nontraditional settings.
Chronic diseases, defined as a disease lasting 3 or more months (National Center for Health Statistics, 2013), disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, including individuals from lower socioeconomic classes, women and children, and may affect these individuals’ ability to attain and maintain health. Children are especially vulnerable and often have multiple risk factors for poor health. Children represent 24 percent of the 2011 U.S. population and include 53.2% White, 14% African American, 4.7% Asian/Pacific Islander, 23.5% Hispanic, and 0.9% American Indian/Alaskan Native (US Census Bureau, 2011, ChildStats.gov)). Forty-four percent of all children live in low-income families and nearly one in every five live in poor families. Moreover, the population of children is becoming increasingly more ethnically and racially diverse. The Census Bureau indicated that 50.4 percent of our nation’s population younger than age 1 were minorities as of July 1, 2011. Uninsured rates are among the highest for these groups,. There are 8 million uninsured U.S. children ( 38.5% White, 16.2% African American, 4.5% Asian/Pacific Islander, 37.1% Hispanic, 1.3% American Indian, and other (multi-racial) 1.6 %are uninsured.
It is also recognized that older children, ages 13 through 18 (38.1%), are particularly at risk of being uninsured (Children’s Defense Fund). The association between poverty, health status, race, ethnicity, insurance status, geographic location, and access to good quality health care, or any health care, is well documented. For example, the U.S. infant mortality rate continues to decline by 12% to a rate of 6.05 per 1,000 live births in 2011. Infant mortality remains disproportionally higher for non-Hispanic Blacks (12.4%) than for non-Hispanic white infants (5.3%). Black and Hispanic children are less likely to have access to health care or to receive preventive services including dental care, emotional counseling and diet management; and, poverty and minority race/ethnicity are associated with increased risk for childhood chronic and disabling diseases. As a result, recent studies estimate the prevalence of child and adolescent chronic conditions, requiring ongoing specialized care, to be between 10-20%; experts note that these estimates substantially undercount some prevalent conditions such as obesity and mental health conditions.