NC Leaders Celebrate 20 Years of Progress in Child Health

Today, Legislators, officials from the state Department of Health and Human Service and non-profit leaders will celebrate two decades of progress in children’s health at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the North Carolina Child Health Report Card.

“The Child Health Report Card has been an invaluable resource over the past two decades,” said Dr. Adam Zolotor, PhD, Interim President of the North Carolina Institute for Medicine. “By looking at a consistent, comprehensive set of health outcomes every year, we can identify challenges and opportunities, and recognize areas of success.”

According to the authors of the 2014 Report Card, North Carolina’s children are significantly healthier today than they were 20 years ago. Health insurance coverage is at an all-time high, youth smoking is down, and “a child born today is half as likely to die before his or her first birthday as a child born in the 1990s.”

“Our progress over the past 20 years is cause for optimism about the future,” said Michelle Hughes, Executive Director of NC Child. “However, it is important to remember that this progress is not accidental; it is the direct result of strategic, data-driven investments in children’s health and well-being.”

Speakers at the event include Dr. James Perrin, Immediate Past Present of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Anita Brown-Graham, JD, Director of the Institute of Emerging Issues; and, Karen McNeil-Miller, EdD, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

In his keynote address, Dr. Perrin will cite the necessity of prioritizing investments in children and building on our state’s legacy of success and innovation: “Investing in children has key short-term and long-term effects on the economy. Children who receive good health care now have parents who are better employees and less distracted by their children’s unmet needs. Long-term outcomes include a healthy workforce able to strengthen the economy of North Carolina and the nation.”

The 2014 Child Health Report Card shows continued progress in the percentage of children with health insurance and the utilization of dental services. However, obesity, adolescent suicide attempts, and poverty, which is closely tied to health outcomes, worsened.

Specifically, the 2014 Report Card found that:

  • The percentage of uninsured children declined from 8.1 percent in 2009 to 6.2 percent in 2013.
  • Teen pregnancy rates among girls ages 15-17 continued to improve, falling 44 percent to 16.6 per 1,000.
  • The number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births dropped from 7.9 to 7.
  • More than one-thirds (36.3 percent) of adolescents and teens ages 10-17 are overweight or obese.
  • Although fewer High School students now smoke, one in five (22.4 percent) report using emerging tobacco products, like e-cigarettes, in the past 30 days.
  • The child poverty rate rose from 22.5 percent to 25.2 percent.

In her closing remarks, NC Child’s Michelle Hughes spells out the connection between health and poverty: “Child poverty is closely linked to a number of negative outcomes, including obesity, lack of health insurance coverage, mental health and substance abuse problems, and much more. If we want to continue to make progress on child health, we cannot ignore the economic health of our communities.”
About the Report Card

For 19 years, the North Carolina Child Health Report Card has monitored the health and safety of children and youth in our state. The report compiles more than 40 indicators of child health and safety into one easy-to-read document that helps policymakers, health professionals, the media, and concerned citizens track children’s health outcomes, identify emerging trends, and plan future investments. The report card presents data for the most current year available, usually 2013, and a comparison year, or benchmark, usually 2009.

Click here to download a copy of the 2014 North Carolina Child Health Report Card