Environmental factors that can affect the health and wellbeing of children are plentiful. When poverty is introduced to the mix, the chances of injury, illness and death sky rocket. Initially, my research was involved in accidental poisonings. The information I discovered took me by surprise. The rate of fatal poisonings among low income people are four times that of high income (WHO, 2013). The effects of poverty are far reaching.
Some other factors that can affect children in poverty situations are obesity and malnutrition, access to health care, asthma, lack of preventative health care measures, mental health, functional health, and education (Gupta, de Wit, & McKeown, 2007). Studies have found that the risk for childhood asthma increases with the duration of poverty. It is thought that this correlation may be due to lower income families having higher rates of low birth weight babies, lower rates of breast feeding and access to fewer health care services (Gupta, et al. 2007).
Obesity if found to be much more prevalent in poverty stricken communities because of the lack of access to fresh healthy food. Children in low income communities are up to 24% more obese than children in middle to high income communities (Gupta, et al. 2007). The lack of fresh food results in unhealthy diets that lack vital nutrients. Lower income communities also lack safe parks and facilities for kids to get exercise resulting in higher rates of sedentary lifestyles. The negative effects of poverty on child and their lifelong health are many. There must be a greater focus on healthy resources for communities affected by poverty.
Gupta, R. P.-S., de Wit, M. L., & McKeown, D. (2007). The impact of poverty on the current and future health status of children. Paediatrics & Child Health, 12(8), 667–672.
WHO. Child injuries and violence. (2013). Retrieved January 10, 2017, from http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/child/en/