Children's Health Protection
Fast Facts on Children’s Environmental Health
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- Asthma is a common chronic disease among children in the United States.
- In 2006, 9.9 million children under 18 years of age were reported to have ever been diagnosed with asthma; 6.8 million children had an asthmatic episode in the last 12 months.
- The hospitalization rate for asthma remained at 27 per 10,000 children from 2002-2004.
- Asthma is the third ranking cause of non-injury related hospitalization among children less than 15 years of age.
- Although asthma deaths among children are rare, 195 children under 18 years of age died from asthma in 2003.
- Asthma disproportionately affects children from lower-income families and children from various racial and ethnic groups.
- African-American children have a 500% higher mortality rate from asthma as compared with Caucasian children.
- In 2005, 13% of African-American children were reported to have asthma as compared with 9% of Hispanic children and 8% of non-Hispanic white children.
- Larger disparities exist within the Hispanic population such that 20% of Puerto Rican children were reported to have asthma as compared with 7% of Mexican children.
- While national level surveys suggest Asian and Pacific Islander children do
not have high rates of asthma, small scale surveys however show a high
prevalence of asthma among subgroups of Asian and Pacific Islander
- Filipino children have an asthma prevalence of 23.8%
- Pacific Islander children have an asthma prevalence of 21%
- In 2002, children 5-17 years old missed 14.7 million school days due to asthma.
- The direct and indirect costs of asthma to the U.S. economy were $19.7
billion in 2007.
- Approximately $14.7 billion dollars are directly associated with the medical care costs of asthma
- Approximately $5 billion are associated with lost productivity
- Asthmatic patients and their families pay a higher portion of their medical care costs than patients with other diseases due to heavy reliance on prescription medication combined with lower insurance coverage for prescription drugs.
- Currently, no level of lead in blood has been identified as safe for children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend public health actions be initiated for children with a reference level of 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.
- Today, elevated blood lead levels in children are due mostly to ingestion of contaminated dust, paint and soil.
- Other sources of lead exposure include ceramics, drinking water pipes and plumbing fixtures, consumer products, batteries, gasoline, solder, ammunition, imported toys, and cosmetics.
- In 2010, an estimated 535,000 children had a blood lead level of 5 µg/dL. The number of children affected by lead poisoning has decreased significantly from 4.7 million in 1978.
- The decline in blood lead levels is due to the phasing out of lead in gasoline between 1973 and 1995 and the reduction in the number of homes with lead-based paint from 64 million in 1990 to 38 million in 2000. About 24 million homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards.
- Lead exposure in young children can result in lowered intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, delayed puberty, and reduced postnatal growth.
- Blood lead levels are higher for children ages 1-5 years old from lower-income families and for certain racial and ethnic groups.
- The median blood lead level in Black non-Hispanic children ages 1-5 years old is higher than the level in White non-Hispanic children, Mexican-American children, and children of “All Other Races/Ethnicities.”
- The median blood lead level for children living in families with incomes below poverty level is higher than for children living in families at or above poverty level.
- The cost of reduced cognitive ability is measured by IQ scores and valued in terms of forgone earnings and is estimated to be about $9, 600 per IQ point lost.
- The cost of not eliminating lead exposure to children between 2000-2010 is expected to be about $22 billion in forgone earnings.
- In 2007, an estimated 10, 400 new cancer cases were expected to occur among children aged 0-14 years old. An estimated 1,545 deaths from cancer were expected to occur among children in 2007.
- Leukemia is the most common cancer in children under 15, accounting for 30 percent of all childhood cancers, followed by brain and other nervous system cancers.
- Cancer is the second leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 14 years of age, with unintentional injuries being the leading cause.
- The causes of childhood cancer are poorly understood, though different forms of cancer have different causes. Parental and childhood exposure to pesticides and radiation may cause certain cancers in children.
- Hispanic children were reported to have a higher incidence of acute lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) than non-Hispanic white children.
- Although national studies indicate that Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) children overall do not have higher rates of Cancer compared to non- Hispanic whites, a smaller scale study conducted in California showed APIA children are at increased risk of developing acute non lymphocytic Leukemia (ANLL) compared with non-Hispanic white infants.
- The total cost per case of childhood cancer was estimated to be about $623,000.
- In 2001-2004, about 7 children out of every 1,000 children were reported to be diagnosed with mental retardation.
- Between 3-8 percent of the babies born each year will be affected by developmental disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or mental retardation. In 2003--2004, an estimated 300,000 U.S. children aged 4--17 years were reported to have Autism.
- Mental retardation is more common for children from lower income families and for certain racial and ethnic groups.
- During the 2001-2002 school year, an estimated 6.5 million children were enrolled in special education programs. This is almost 75% increase from 1976-1977.
- The economic costs associated with autism are approximately $35 billion dollars per year.
- Expenditures can range from 1.6 times (for students with specific learning disabilities) to 3.1 times (for students with multiple disabilities) higher than expenditures for a regular education student.