Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Child Well Being a Sad Report For Louisiana

Category: Access To Children's Health Care




Louisiana was studied among other states for its composite ranking in children's health measures. The study was done by the Center for the Study of Social Policy - The Annie E. Casey Foundation. The data presented focused on eight key measures of child well being.

1. Louisiana ranks 49th out of 51 in the percent of low birth weight babies.

2. Our infant mortality rate is 39th out of 51.

3. The child death rate in Louisiana is 37th out of 51.

4. The teen violent death rate is 38 out of 51.

5. The percent of teen out of wedlock births is 49 out of 51.

6. The juvenile incarceration rate is 38 out of 51.

7. The percent of children in poverty in Louisiana is 50 out of 51.

8. The percentage graduating from high school, we are 47th out of 51.


Adding all these dismal statistics together puts us at 49th out of 51 states, only behind Washington, D.C. and Georgia. Certainly these statistics are disturbing along with so many other statistics such as the way we treat pregnant women in Louisiana with poor access to health care for such a high percentage of them. We are leading the nation in congenital syphilis and we are much higher than the national average for AIDS in both children and adults.

What can we do to begin reversing these disturbing statistics? I believe we should support any means toward greater access to health care for all of our citizens, irregardless of their race, religion or economic status. We must get our poor children, in particular, into the medical system quicker and practice more preventive medicine. One of the ways we are trying to do this in Louisiana is through Kid Med, which is an innovative new program funded by state and federal government? I think it is a good start and, hopefully, will be fine tuned and improved upon in the next few years.

Another challenging way of reaching some of these children is through the new indigent clinics which are springing up around the state including Opelousas and Lafayette. One problem with these clinics unfortunately, is that many doctors who would like to serve in these clinics, even at no charge are worried about law suits in their senior years and hesitate to get involved with this high risk population.

Perhaps the best solution overall would be to adopt a policy of universal health access as proposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics last year in the Matsui Bill, House Resolution 3393. The AAP and Representative Matsui certainly plan to reintroduce this bill if President Clinton does not propose a similar package of his own right away. Let us all as concerned citizens for the future of our children, our state and our country, get behind any positive, creative approaches to better health care and treatment of our children.