Health Advocates: Child Health Survey Paints Rosier Picture Than Reality

Mar 26, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - New data show that Kentucky children are healthier on average than kids across the country, but some health providers see the numbers quite differently.

Stats released by the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health indicate that 86 percent of kids in the Bluegrass were classified as being in very good or excellent health for a period covering 2011 and 2012. The national average was 84 percent.

One area where the state overtook the national average was in oral health, with 75 percent of kids scoring “excellent or very good,” four percent higher than the nationwide numbers.

Good news, right? Not so fast, says Dr. Laura Hancock, chairperson of the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition.

"The information is gathered by parents," she cautions.

And that, she says, probably explains the discrepancy between the National Survey of Children’s Health numbers and other data that show Kentucky consistently lagging behind in oral health.

"There's a real disconnect... where patients may think that 'I only go whenever I'm in pain to the dentist' versus what causes the decay in their children's mouth," Hancock explains.

Hancock notes that, in addition to being a parent-driven survey, the 2011/2012 report also shows Kentucky losing ground in key areas since the survey was last conducted in 2007. She says improving health literacy, one of the goals of her group, would not only benefit Kentuckians’ health but also bring the survey results into more realistic alignment with the nation.