by Nancy Ryerson
, Staff Writer | September 01, 2013
From the September 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Meanwhile, by 1899, 28 states had passed some legislation protecting child workers. The first federal child labor law was passed in 1916. By 1900, successful efforts lowered the infant mortality rate as well as the birth rate, and the average number of children per family fell to four — a sign that parents believed their children would live beyond early childhood.
After World War I, pediatricians rather than general practitioners began to treat most children. By 1920, cities with populations of 100,000 people or more began offering mother and child health services to the poor. In the 1930s, public health efforts were put in place to eliminate rickets by fortifying milk with Vitamin D. Soon after, the March of Dimes was founded to help end polio. By 1940, the infant mortality rate fell to 47 infant deaths per 1,000 births.
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Federal programs, such as the national school lunch program established in 1946 and the supplemental food program for women, infants and children introduced in 1972, further bolstered children’s health across the country. Government programs to support kids’ nutrition continued into the 1990s. In 1991, the Health Resources and Services Administration founded the Healthy Start program, set up to provide services in rural and urban areas with infant mortality rates 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than the national average.
As of 2010, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. stands at 6.05 per 1,000 births. That’s still more than twice the infant mortality rate of most countries in Scandinavia, for example. Childhood obesity is another leading challenge in children’s health today. In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents in the U.S. were overweight or obese.
Pediatrics has certainly grown up since the first departments and hospitals were founded, but the research and efforts of pediatricians and medical associations aren’t finished yet. Today, the American Pediatric Society hasn’t stopped its efforts, working to eliminate the health disparities that still exist between high and low income children.
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