Children’s Health and Diagnosis
Childhood is a critical and dynamic period of human development that has lifelong effects on health (Halfon, Inkelas, & Wood, (2001), Health care reform for children and families. In: Anderson, Rice, Kominiski, eds. Changing the US health care system: Key issues in health services, policy, and management. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, 261-290). Preventing chronic illness and promoting optimal long-term health require a special focus on optimizing functional capacity in childhood. Health development is a term that further expands the definition of health to acknowledge childhood as a unique period in which biological, behavioral, and environmental influences intertwine to influence current and future (adult) health (Keating & Hertzman, 1999. Developmental health and the wealth of nations: Social, biological, and educational dynamics. NY: The Gulford Press).
Four key components of primary care for children: acute care, chronic illness care, preventive care, and developmental health services (Regaldo & Halfon, 2005. Developmental and behavioral surveillance and promotion of parenting skills. In: Osborn, L., et al, eds. Pediatrics. Philadelphia , Pa. Elsevier Mosby, 224-233).
Children’s Health Interventions
Evidence suggests that current clinical service delivery mechanisms fall short in key areas such as addressing children’s developmental and other “nonmedical” (psychosocial, environmental) concerns (Young, Davis, & Schoen., 1996. The Commonwealth Fund Survey of Parents with Young children. NY , NY : The Commonwealth Fund). These concerns are often linked to common morbidities (e.g., developmental delay, drug & alcohol abuse, mental & emotional disorders, family violence) that challenge families and health care providers (Green & Palfrey, eds., 2000. Bright futures: Guidelines for health supervision of infants, children, and adolescents, 2 nd ed. Arlington , VA : National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health). Although these psychosocial/environmental concerns undermine health, clinicians often feel inadequate to address them Blumenthal, Campbell, Gokhale, et al., 2001. Preparedness for clinical practice: reports of graduating residents at academic health centers. JAMA; 286(9): 1027-1034).
Social Issues & Barriers To Care
Although all children are vulnerable, for some children this is exaggerated by poor health, social or family circumstances, or other environmental threats. For example, children who have been abused or neglected and placed into foster care often have been severely traumatized, diminishing their capacity to respond to age-specific developmental demands. Similarly, children whose parents have acute or chronic mental health or substance abuse problems can be routinely exposed to serious health and developmental threats.
Clinicians may not inquire about issues such as domestic violence, mental illness, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, hunger, access to high quality child care, educational resources, or social isolation, if they cannot offer a resource or potential solution to the family. To address effectively the health risk and protective factors affecting children, a clinical practice must function as a hub or resource center that is effectively linked to community resources.
Child Advocacy Center 352-376-9161
Child Protection Team 352-334-1300 or Abuse hotline (1-800-96-abuse or 1-800-962-2873)
Florida Diagnostic & Leaning Resource System 800-533-0326
Children Medical Services 800-523-7545
Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County 352-375-4110
Alachua Multi-County Migrant Education Program 352-955-6855
Children’s Health Facts
Percent of children 6-11 years of age who are overweight: 17.5 (2001-2004) (Source: Health, United States, 2006, Table 74).
Percent of children without health insurance: 9.3 (2006) (Source: Early release of selected estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, Tables 1.1).