By Stephanie Birch, RNC, MPH, MS, FNP
It is often said, “Children are our future.” However, recent statistics show that the current generation of children under age 18 may experience a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Obesity and the associated health complications are considered to be the one of the major culprits affecting this outcome. Children’s health status is also affected by many factors including, but not limited to socioeconomic status, parent’s level of education, race and the status of health care coverage. The signing of the Affordable Care Act initiated improvements in health insurance coverage and access to care for children with the goal to improve the status of children’s health. This legislation increases access to pediatric preventative care, behavioral health services and public health services, expands dental health access, strengthens the pediatric workforce and expands community health center capacity. While some states are implementing this legislation slowly, many are moving ahead and designing changes in their programs to support improvements the health status of children.
Many of you are involved in programs geared toward prevention and advancing the health status of children. Efforts focused on increasing vaccination rates, preventing traumatic brain injuries from sports activities and reducing smoking and other high risk behaviors among teens are just a few examples of the outstanding work done by maternal-child health professionals. In this month’s issue of Pulse you will find articles on a variety of success stories and partnerships which have led to improvements for children’s health. Maternal and Child Health staff have a significant role to play in improving the health status of children. Working together we can help children be the best they can be!