Hot Topics in Children’s Health

In talking about public health and healthcare administration, it’s easy to focus in on adult healthcare while forgetting to talk about healthcare for children and teenagers. While there is certainly a fair amount of overlap between children’s health and adult health, there are also some concerns that are unique or more prevalent among youth. Additionally, the approaches and resources needed to address children’s health concerns can vary from those used with adults.

Hospital administrators will likely have different levels of exposure to children’s health, depending on their institutional setting of employment, but it’s best to be prepared for any setting by understanding some of the most relevant topics.

The biggest issues in children’s health

There are number of health issues that are particularly important to youth. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s 2015 National Poll on Children’s Health rated childhood obesity, bullying, and drug abuse as the top health concerns for youth. Let’s take a deeper look at all three.

Estimates by the CDC show that childhood obesity has grown rapidly since measurements in the 1970s. Estimates put one in five children as obese in today’s world. Childhood obesity is a concern because it correlates with chronic health conditions like asthma, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, childhood obesity also correlates with the second health concern, bullying. Kids who are overweight are more likely to face social isolation and to deal with depression and low self-esteem issues. Bullying is an emotionally damaging experience with liked physical health effects. Unfortunately, the Internet can sometimes add to bullying issues.

The topic of drug abuse also has a strong connection to social factors. During any period of transition in a youth’s life, such as changing schools or leaving home for college, they are more likely to turn to drugs. They may also encounter more social situations that involve drugs as they age. Protective social factors are key to encouraging youth don’t turn to drugs in times of turmoil and change.

Hospital facilities, equipment, and staff

Of course, some children’s health issues fall under more traditional medical categories. Just like adults, children can face cancer, bad injuries, and infectious diseases.

Some hospitals are designated entirely for children’s health issues, while other institutions may serve children, even if they also provide healthcare to adults. About 15 percent of the three million children hospitalized each year are treated in a designated children’s hospital or large pediatric unit.

Healthcare institutions (with the help of administrators) have to make decisions about how much equipment and staff they will maintain specific to children’s health needs.

Other models for addressing children’s health

It’s important to know that hospitals aren’t the only place where children and their parents will seek healthcare and healthcare information. For instance school-based health centers have become a common feature of many educational institutions with a community wellness focus. Such centers can provide limited primary care, counseling, case management, and health education, among other resources.

Hopefully, you’ve seen through this article that children’s health is a multi-faceted issue with deep roots in social challenges. Understanding the dynamics will make you a more informed administrator for the children’s health issues you encounter in any healthcare institution.