Greensboro News & Record
A report issued this month by NC Child showed that one in 14 births in Alamance County is to a mother who received very late or no prenatal care. More children are also receiving early intervention services from the county than before and a quarter of this area’s children live in poverty.
The report provided county-level information regarding child health and well-being based on data compiled on social, economic and health outcomes. The report served as a supplement to the N.C. Child Health Report Card.
Alamance County Health Director Stacie Saunders said Wednesday the report provided a snapshot of what is happening in the county. Saunders said a woman’s health before and during pregnancy determines the health outcomes for mother and child.
Women’s health before pregnancy is just as important as their health during pregnancy, Saunders said. A woman’s preconception health should be taken seriously, and poverty, weight and other factors such as smoking can determine health outcomes short-term and long-term for mother and child, Saunders said.
The report said women who are uninsured at conception may encounter administrative delays for Medicaid that prevent them from accessing prenatal care during the most critical period of their babies’ development.
Research shows children raised in poverty have poorer health outcomes and are more likely to suffer from acute and chronic health problems as they age, according to NC Child.
ONE IN FOUR children in Alamance County lives below the poverty line, while one in 15 is uninsured. The report showed that 9,250 children in the county are food insecure, meaning they are living in households that struggle to provide enough healthy, nutritious food for all members of the family.
The report also showed that one in nine babies is born at a low birth weight in the county, putting children at greater risk for developmental delays or future health complications, including infant mortality.
Saunders said the county’s infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births from 2009-13 was 8.1 percent as compared to 10.8 percent from 1999 to 2003.
County DSS Director Susan Osborne said Wednesday that the county’s high rate of childhood poverty is particularly concerning.
“Research shows us that poverty is a strong predictor of educational success and then adult employment,” Osborne said. “Data tells us that the longer a child lives in poverty, the worse their adult outcomes. Supporting school readiness and educational success for our children is a strategy to move the needle in a positive direction.”
Osborne said that DSS supports programs such as the Alamance Alliance SAMHSA Grant for early identification and intervention, and Social/Emotional, Work First, Medicaid, Food and Nutrition Services and Child Care subsidies to support families toward self-sufficiency, employment and positive outcomes.
THE NUMBER OF children younger than 3 receiving early intervention services in the county has grown. In 2009, 216 children received intervention services, which increased to 263 children in 2013, according to NC Child.
According to the report, a baby born in Alamance County is expected to live 77.5 years. Orange County has the longest life expectancy for residents in the state: 81.7 years. Swain County has the lowest life expectancy for residents: 73 years.
To see the full report, visit www.ncchild.org.
“Across indicators, we see that a distance of fewer than 100 miles can mean the difference between positive or negative outcomes in children’s lives, a fact that simply cannot be explained by random chance or genetic predisposition,” NC Child Director of Research Laila Bell said. “These geographic disparities are a stark reminder of the profound impact the environments where our children live, play and go to school have on their long-term health opportunities.”
Source: Many Alamance County Children Born into Tough Circumstances.