Wednesday, April 28, 2010
COVINGTON, Ky. – Many children in Northern Kentucky face a future of poor health as they are threatened by substandard nutrition, physical activity, maternal health, access to care and other environmental factors.
These are the findings of a report released by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the strategic planning initiative Vision 2015.
The report was prepared by the Child Policy Research Center (CPRC) at Cincinnati Children’s, one of Vision 2015’s community partners. It highlights needed improvements in six key areas: maternal health and healthy development, healthy lifestyles, mental health, access to care, oral health, and other threats. The report compares findings at county and ZIP Code levels.
Vision 2015 has been leading a diverse collaborative of organizations and individuals in Northern Kentucky to develop plans for ensuring a high quality of life and economic prosperity in the region. In January, the Livable Communities workgroup of Vision 2015 and the Northern Kentucky Health Department released the report “Vision for a Healthy and Vibrant Community,” which outlined the results of an 18-month long health and social needs assessment. This second report focuses on healthy childhoods, which are critical for a healthy and productive adulthood.
"From birth through young adulthood, children are faced with a set of opportunities and threats that determine their developmental trajectory," according to Dr. Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, a pediatrician, professor and director of the CPRC. "Growing up healthy in Northern Kentucky depends on a broad range of issues, including healthy birth outcomes, access to preventive services, high quality primary care, and an environment that both promotes and enables healthy choices and healthy living."
One of the most striking findings is the number of pregnant women smoking – a significant contributor to premature birth, low birth weight and long-term health problems. Roughly 25 percent of women in Northern Kentucky smoked at some point during pregnancy, suggesting a need for an increase in smoking cessation programs for expectant mothers.
The influences of economic, social and physical environments figure prominently in this report. Cited are concerns about education and poverty as well as access to healthy food choices and opportunities for physical activity in neighborhoods. Less than one-third of the population of Northern Kentucky lives in a walkable neighborhood.
Other findings of note in the study about Northern Kentucky include:
The report from Cincinnati Children’s will be used by Vision 2015 partners to prioritize issues and identify resources to address the community’s most significant health challenges. The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will also support the implementation of strategic initiatives to meet these needs. A partial list of recommended strategies in the Child Health report includes:
Information in the child health report came from data obtained from government and community health organizations as well as surveys of Northern Kentucky residents and focus groups.
"Understanding these findings is an opportunity for residents to shape the health priorities of the region and pull together, as a community, to improve the situation. It's my hope that residents will see this as a call to action," said Bill Scheyer, president of Vision 2015.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is one of 10 children’s hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report’s 2009-10 America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care, neurosurgery, diabetes, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Internationally recognized for quality and innovation by The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it has collaborations with hospitals and health systems around the world. . Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org