Reports show improved child health in Guilford County

Mar. 06, 2014 @ 03:51 PM

Since 2007, Guilford County children have experienced improvement in key health indicators, including insurance coverage, dental care, teen pregnancy, child deaths and even high-school graduation rates, according to recent statistics.
“Poverty causes increased financial and emotional strains on families that often result in poorer health outcomes for children,” said Laila A. Bell, director of research and data at NC Child, a statewide, nonprofit child advocacy organization. “These data show that public policy actions which promote evidence-based programs and support local communities can be powerful tools to safeguard our children’s health during tough economic times.”
NC Child’s 2013 Child Health County Data Card for Guilford County finds between 2007 and 2012:
•Medicaid enrollment increased by 33.4 percent and Health Choice enrollment by 38.0 percent, which is consistent with statewide data showing a 30-percent decline in uninsured children.
•Medicaid-eligible children who received dental care increased by 20.4 percent for children ages 1-5 and 14.5 percent for children ages 6-14.
•North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate continued to improve, dropping 43 percent to 19.7 per 1,000 girls ages 15-17. The teen pregnancy rate was 18.8 per 1,000 girls in Guilford County.
•Statewide, child fatalities continued to decline, falling 22 percent to 58.6 per 100,000 children under age 18. Guilford had 68 child deaths in 2012.
•The graduation rate improved by 6 percent.
“It’s no coincidence that Guilford County experienced a significant decline in its teen pregnancy rate and increase in its graduation rate over the past several years,” said Bell. “Both of these indicators have been targeted by well-funded state efforts.”
While typically associated with academic achievement, the graduation rate is also a key health indicator. Education is associated with better earning potential and higher income, which enables purchase of better housing in safer neighborhoods, healthier food, health insurance coverage and more timely medical care. Studies have linked high-school dropout to higher rates of substance use, psychological, emotional and behavioral problems.
NC Child’s findings for Guilford County were not all positive, however. Key economic indicators in the county have worsened as a result of the recession and subsequent budget cuts. Specifically, unemployment in Guilford County increased from 4.8 percent to 9.8 percent from 2007 to 2012, and the median household income declined 15.9 percent to $43,299. In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, 23.1 percent of Guilford County children were living in households that struggled to meet basic nutritional needs.
To download a copy of Guilford County’s data card for the NC Child report, visit www.ncchild.org/sites/default/files/Guilford.pdf.