Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

How healthy are children in Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties?

Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a children's advocacy non-profit, recently released reports that looked at the children's health status of the three counties surrounding Philadelphia.

How healthy are children in Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties?

Childhood obesity and access to health care remain some of the most pressing issues when it comes to children’s health in Bucks, Delaware and Chester counties, according to recently released reports from Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a children’s advocacy non-profit.

The reports found that nearly 20,000 children in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties are uninsured.  More than a quarter of those kids (5,692) are undocumented and cannot enroll in CHIP or Medical Assistance. 

In the three counties, about 114,000 children are overweight or obese. In addition, disparities persisted between children of different races, ethnicities, insurance statuses and incomes.

“We need to do a better job of insuring children and making kids healthier,” said Estelle Richman, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and PCCY Board Member in a written statement.  “The healthier our kids are, the more successful they will be later on in life.”

Each county report looked at 15 indicators of children’s health which included teen birth rate, low birth rates, teen pregnancy, asthma diagnoses, and insurance enrollment. Behavioral health was not included because of the lack of reliable public data, according to PCCY.

Here are highlights from each county:

Bucks County

  • The share of children without health insurance decreased by 24%, the largest drop in the region. However, 3,377 children are still uninsured.  It is estimated that 98% of Bucks County children are insured.
  • One in three Bucks County children are overweight or obese, a jump of 4,089 children (17%) in the last five years.

Chester County

  • Few Chester County babies are born with low birth weights, yet disparities exist
  • While 95% of Chester County children have coverage, more than 6,000 children are uninsured, the only county in southeastern Pennsylvania that saw a rise in the number of uninsured children

Delaware County

  • Asthma hospitalizations decreased 14%, yet Delaware County has the highest asthma hospitalization rate among the four suburban counties.
  • Only 19% of children under six were tested for lead, while 75% of Delaware County homes may contain lead-based paint.

To address these issues, PCCY has proposed that officials:

  • Launch a county-wide campaign to get every eligible child health insurance
  • Push the Commonwealth to remove the barrier to health coverage faced by undocumented children
  • Encourage the State Department of Public Welfare to increase the quality of provider networks where necessary and  improve efforts to reduce the incidence of obesity among the children served by the Medicaid Managed Care companies
  • Improve county reporting on children without dental insurance and the number of children diagnosed and receiving treatment for behavioral health conditions
  • Identify new funds to test and remediate homes and eliminate childhood lead poisoning

PCCY is working with county officials and health care providers to address these children's health issues.

“We are proud to provide programs that help to improve the health of women and children, especially those living in poor communities,” said Joanne Craig, Administrative Director of Women and Children's Health Services for Crozer-Keystone Health System in a written statement. 

Here are links to full reports from Public Citizens for Children and Youth for each county:

Chester County

Delaware County

Bucks County

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Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
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The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Christopher C. Chang, M.D., Ph.D Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Mario Cruz, M.D St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Lauren Falini Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, RD Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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