Children’s overall development during the first eight years of life is strongly affected by their health. Experiences during this time are often hardwired into their brains and bodies, forming the foundation for all subsequent health and development, including third grade reading outcomes.

Good health helps ensure that children are successful learners from birth. Healthy children are more likely to be physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally ready for kindergarten, attend school consistently, and benefit from high-quality learning environments.

Comprehensive, integrated, high-quality health care can help prevent chronic, undiagnosed health issues, and manage chronic conditions that can be obstacles to learning.

Areas of children’s health that are known to impact third grade reading include:

  • Prenatal substance exposure
  • Lead exposure
  • Nutrition
  • Asthma
  • Oral health
  • Early weight problems
  • Physical activity
  • Preventable health risks

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of kindergartners have untreated tooth decay

County Level Oral Health Status, 2015-16

of NC children have an asthma diagnosis

NC Child Health Report Card, 2018

of NC children have health insurance coverage

NC Child Health Report Card, 2018


What Can We Do About It?

What supports physical health?

  • Creating a comprehensive, integrated statewide culture of health
  • Ensuring equitable access to high quality health care
  • Screening universally and providing treatment as needed
  • Addressing non-medical family needs that impact health outcomes

Research-based based policies, practices and programs that providers, communities and North Carolina can take to improve young children’s physical health outcomes.

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More About Physical Health