“America’s kids are not all right — we need urgent action to save young lives,” the title of a recent op-ed in The Hill by Add Health Director, Dr. Hummer, says it all. As COVID-19 continues, concerns regarding the mental health of children and young adults have become a popular topic of conversation. But the truth is, kids were not all right before the pandemic. “Americans under age 25 face higher death rates and lower life expectancies than their peers in other affluent nations,” remarks Hummer in his recent piece. The infant mortality rate is three times higher in the U.S. than in other affluent countries, accounting for almost 21,000 deaths of the nearly 60,000 people under the age of 25 who died in America in 2019. Childhood poverty also plays a large role in the risk of dying early. Despite government benefits, such as food assistance and housing vouchers, one report showed that the U.S. child poverty rate is the second-highest out of 35 advanced economies.
Dr. Hummer’s op-ed suggests that “many young lives could be saved through policies and interventions addressing social and economic inequities.” By reducing child poverty and providing access to childcare, preschool, housing, nutrition, and healthcare, many young lives could be saved. Another crucial avenue to lower death rates is to improve access to quality healthcare and reproductive health programs by addressing the racial and ethnic barriers. The risk of death before age 25 is 60% higher among Black children and adolescents than their white peers. Dr. Hummer states, “Policymakers and community leaders need to take a hard look at what can be done to implement reforms that will save young lives. In our incredibly wealthy country, we must assure that our children are not in poverty, have their health care needs met and are free from the dangers of firearm violence. We owe our children and adolescents at least this much.”
Visit The Hill to read the full article.