Children From Families Where English Is Not the Primary Language More Likely To Be Uninsured, in Poorer Health, Study Says
Children in U.S. households where English is not the primary language are more likely than other children to lack medical or dental insurance and be in poorer health, according to a study in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The study is based on a telephone survey of 100,000 households nationwide. In 62% of households where English is not the primary language, Spanish is spoken. Forty-two percent of non-English-speaking households are considered poor by federal standards, while only 13% of English-speaking households are considered poor.
According to the study, more than one-quarter of children from households where English is not the primary language lacked health insurance, compared with 6% of children in English-speaking households. In addition, 39% of children from non-English-speaking families lacked dental coverage, compared with 20% of children in English-speaking families.
Forty-eight percent of children in households where English was not the primary language were considered at risk of being overweight, compared with 39% of children in households where English is the primary language.
The study also found that 43% of non-English-speaking households and 12% of households speaking English reported that their children were not in good or excellent health. Further, 27% of children in non-English-speaking homes had poor or fair dental health, compared with 7% of children in English-speaking homes.
Study author Glenn Flores, director of general pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said that the effect of being uninsured extends beyond children's health. He added, "It ends up costing all society in missed school days and missed work days, and this is the population that is growing by leaps and bounds. The population surge that's going on means that this is our future work force, so these things will affect everybody" (McGee, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 6/16).
An abstract of the study is available online.