CHILDREN’S HEALTH: Big City Babies Face Greater Risks
A study released today finds that babies born in America's 50 largest cities are more likely to be unhealthy because their mothers are younger, unmarried and less educated, the Baltimore Sun reports. The president of the Annie Casey Foundation of Baltimore, which sponsored the study, said that it "shows clearly what happens when families don't get the kind of support they need. But because of the differences between cities, it may also give us more information on how to change this picture." Researchers examined eight characteristics in assessing health risks to newborns, including their birth weights, if their mothers had received prenatal care and whether they were born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. The Casey study also measured mothers' average age, level of education, marital status, number of children and smoking status (Baltimore Sun, 12/16). Seattle ranked first in the study and Cleveland ranked 50th. Joan Benso, executive director of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said, "A baby born under adverse conditions must travel a hard road just to reach the starting line." In Philadelphia, which ranked 43rd among 50 cities, 18.4% of all births were to women under 20, much higher than the 10.4% statewide rate and the 14.9% average for the 50 cities. (Dubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/16). Some experts pointed out that the study is not perfect, as city variability complicates the results. Paula Armbruster, director of outpatient services at the Child Study Center of Yale University, contended that not all urban children are at risk, "But because of urban flight, many of the disadvantaged have congregated in the inner city and now face the challenges of poverty" (Baltimore Sun, 12/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.