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Mixed Report: Health of NC's Children

North Carolina's Child Health Report Card says the state has work to do when it come to offering parents access to health care. (Yooperann/
North Carolina's Child Health Report Card says the state has work to do when it come to offering parents access to health care. (Yooperann/
February 16, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. - The health of North Carolina's children has the potential to impact the state for generations to come and this year the state is getting mixed reviews for it's efforts.

NC Child issued its annual report card today tracking 40 areas of child health.

While the state has seen improvement in hospitalization rates for asthma, insurance coverage, teen births and immunization rates, there is room for improvement.

Specifically, Rob Thompson senior policy and communications advisor with the organization, says the state needs to attend to the more than 320,000 parents who lack health insurance.

"If we want to make a difference in the lives of children, we should invest in the health of parents," he says. "That goes all the way up to state and federal governments. I think one of the things we can do in North Carolina is close the health insurance coverage gap."

The uninsured rate for children reached an all-time low of just over five-percent, but Thompson and others believe the remaining 119,000 uninsured children would have a better chance at enrollment if their parents were eligible for health coverage.

States that have expanded Medicaid and closed the coverage gap for adults have seen increased enrollment for children.

Infant mortality in North Carolina has stagnated, according to the report, after declining for the last two decades. Thompson explains that largely has to do with getting mothers regular health care before they become pregnant.

"The healthier both parents are, going into a pregnancy, the more likely it is that baby is going to be born healthy," says Thompson. "The higher percentage of births are happening with mothers who didn't receive any, or received late prenatal care, so that's a really important statistics because it shows too many women in our state are not getting the care they need."

The report card also found one in 10 babies are born to North Carolina mothers who in smoke. Experts say children of parents who smoke have worse birth outcomes, get sick more often and are more likely to smoke themselves.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC