Skip to main content

Narrative Overview

Child Health and Well-Being

 

Why does it matter?

Many consider the health of a community’s youngest members to be the most important indicator of a society’s well-being. If children are not being served, then there are significant needs not being met.

 

 

When looking at child health and well-being, there are a multitude of health-related indicators of a mother’s health during pregnancy and the health of the child. This includes prematurity rate (how many infants are born premature), women receiving adequate prenatal care during pregnancy, and children removed from their homes due to abuse. All of these are important in understanding the physical and mental health of some of our most vulnerable members. 

Where are we now?

We also consider the infant and fetal (stillborn) death rates. Noted is a rise in both fetal and infant death rates, with infant deaths at a higher rate than fetal deaths. Of particular concern is a substantial increase among Blacks, jumping from 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births to 13.85 deaths per 1,000 between 2015 and 2019. High rates of infant deaths are linked to prematurity, toxic stress, and quality of prenatal care. We know Black women have a higher rate of maternal mortality (though not a local area of concern) and lack of access to quality prenatal care.

These health inequities are often based in racism and poverty. Of particular concern is our community’s SUID rate, or Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths. These include babies put to sleep in unsafe sleep environments, including co-sleeping. It is the number one cause of accidental death among children under one year of age, and it has been of increased importance. The community saw particularly high rates from 2016–2018. Community awareness seems to be making a difference as many local organizations have provided safe sleep education. Over the past two years (between 2018 and 2020) the SUID rate has decreased from 2.4 to 1.6 deaths per 1,000 in Escambia, while in Santa Rosa there has been variability in the SUID rate, however; the highest rate recorded over the past six years was 1.1 death per 1,000 and this occurred in 2020.

How do we measure it?

Child health and well-being is measured by both child and maternal health. By understanding whether the mother has had access to prenatal care, education or previous births, we can learn a lot about the socioeconomic conditions of mothers in the region. Poor maternal health impacts the growth and development of the child, which may result in abnormalities such as preterm births, low birthweight or sudden unexpected infant deaths.

Though these problems may arise from maternal health conditions, they can happen to even the healthiest of mothers. Unfortunately, birth defects are not the only cause of harm for children. Cases where children were removed from the home due to abuse were also measured for well-being statistics.

  • Births with no prenatal care: “Primary Care Physicians per 100,000 Population.” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Chart, 2021, Database accessed via http://www.flhealthcharts.com.
  • Births to mothers 19 and over without high school education: “Births to Mothers with Less Than High School Education,” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://www.flhealthcharts.com.
  • Births to single mothers: “Births to Unwed Mothers,” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://flhealthcharts.com.
  • Children Removed from home due to abuse: “Children & Young Adults in Out-of-Home Care – County, FDCF, Florida Department of Children & Families Dashboard, 2020, Database  accessed via https://www.myflfamilies.com.
  • Fetal Mortality Rate: “Fetal Death Rate,” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://www.flhealthcharts.com.
  • Infant Mortality Rate: “Infant Death Rate,” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://www.flhealthcharts.com.
  • Low Birthweight: “Live Births Under 2500 Grams (Low Birth Weight),” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://www.flhealthcharts.com.
  • Repeat Births to mothers ages 15-19: “Repeat Births to mothers ages 15-19,” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://flhealthcharts.com.
  • Teenage birthrate: “Births by Mothers’ Age - filtered by age 0-19,” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://www.flhealthcharts.com.
  • SUIDS: “Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID),” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://www.flhealthcharts.com.
  • Preterm Birth Rate: “Preterm Births (<37 weeks gestation),” Florida Department of Health, Florida Health Charts, 2021, Database accessed via https://www.flhealthcharts.com.

What call to action is linked to this indicator?

It is important for our community to recognize the importance of these indicators and bring attention to the birth to age three population as well as to their mothers. This is the foundation of a child’s life, as well as their health and well-being beginning in the womb, and that can have lifelong impacts.

To make a difference in these indicators, the community must begin to address the social determinants that are affecting women of childbearing age including access to transportation, affordable child care, and peer support for mental health. These determinants help families meet the needs of their children, physically and emotionally, which improves our community as a whole.