The Nov. 4 news article “Poor children are lagging, study finds” highlights the impact of poverty on children. As a pediatrician, I must urge that we go further. The degree of childhood poverty in the United States is unacceptable.
We know poverty is a key social determinant of children’s health, one that harms health in its broadest possible definitions: physical, educational, emotional and social. These early health problems are too often the beginnings of long-term problems in adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has embraced the issue of poverty and its impact on children’s health as a leading priority. But without a sustained, multidisciplinary public-private effort, we cannot achieve lasting, effective change.
More than 22 percent of U.S. children live in poverty, and this extends across urban, rural and, now, suburban communities. Poverty among senior citizens has been reduced dramatically to less than 9 percent as a result of consistent efforts, improving the quality of their lives. The same can be done for children.
Benjamin A. Gitterman, Washington
The writer is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Poverty Work Group.