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Report: Hazards higher for poor kids

Children from lower income families are at greater risk of suffering accidental injuries and being sickened by food, according to a Consumer Federation of America study.

By Mitch Lipka Jun 17, 2013 7:09PM
Image: Broken egg (© Tetra Images/Corbis/Corbis)Children from lower-income families are more likely to suffer accidental injuries or food poisoning, according to a report released today by the Consumer Federation of America (pdf).

Some 44% of children in the U.S. live in poverty.

The category of unintentional injuries is both the Number One cause of death and injury among children from 1-14 -- about 5,000 deaths and more than 5 million emergency room visits. Millions of additional injuries go unreported, the Consumer Federation said.

Among other findings in the report was that low-income children had double the rate of death in motor vehicle accidents compared to higher-income children and that injury rates among children who receive Medicaid benefits is double that of the national average.

Among the reasons cited include where the children live. In lower-income areas, more hazards tend to be present, playgrounds aren't as safe, homes and what's inside of them tend to be older. In addition, the report said single-parent families are more prevalent, there is less supervision, less of an investment in safety equipment and less knowledge about accident prevention.

"Low-income children are at greater risk of unintentional injuries," said Rachel Weintraub, legislative director for the Consumer Federation and a product safety expert. "This issue needs more attention from researchers, safety groups, social welfare groups, government agencies, and businesses selling related products."

When it comes to being sickened from food, children are among the most vulnerable. Those under 15 account for about half of all food-borne illness. Poor children are more vulnerable, the group said, for reasons including having "poorer nutrition, greater exposure to food safety risks in retail stores located in lower-income neighborhoods, and poorer access to health care."

Because low-income families tend to eat more processed foods and less likely to eat higher-risk food items including eggs and meat, the risks are somewhat lessened, according to the report.

The CFA believes a lot more research and attention should be paid to the risks facing lower-income children.

"Given the high incidence of food-borne illness among children, it is especially important to learn more about the influence of factors on the safety of foods consumed by low-income children," Chris Waldrop, director of  the federation's Food Policy Institute, said. "Collecting more and better data related to family income would greatly improve our understanding of these safety issues."

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Jun 18, 2013 2:59PM

Poorer access to health care, yet more emergency room visits? I have an adult niece on Medicaid (teen pregnancies, note the plural) and the emergency room is her answer to a doctors visit, since they don't require planning, and after all, she doesn't have to pay a cent for it. I, who have worked all my life and have a $5,000 deductible on my health care plan, truly reserve the ER for actual emergencies for myself and my kids, and I have to pay for all my health care, always. That can make one very careful if they actually have some skin in the game. As for food illnesses, doesn't  one paragraph say they are more vulnerable and the very next paragraph indicate they aren't due to processed foods?  This article seems to contradict itself just a bit....but maybe I'm just overly tired from preparing unprocessed food for my family that I paid for 100% with my small paycheck

Jun 18, 2013 8:28AM
I bet low income children are at higher risk of intentional injuries as well.
Jun 23, 2013 3:54PM
What exactly is the purpose of this study? I really  hope that Government does not make it mandatory for higher income groups to pay more taxes so that low income groups can stop taking processed food. Can Government intervene to help prevent single parent homes?  Since  the current Government believes in socialism, what else can higher income people do? Maybe they can babysit for poor parents as they cannot adequately supervise their children.
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