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Child Health


Poverty among children has been identified as a priority issue affecting children’s health. [33]  The impact of poverty on health is undeniable.  “Canadians with low incomes are more likely to suffer illnesses and to die early than Canadians with high incomes [34].“  As family incomes fall, the risk of poor developmental outcomes in children’s health, behaviour, learning and socialization rise. [35]

Children in low-income families suffer a higher rate of accidents.  The neighborhoods they live in are often less safe, and their parents may not be able to afford safe equipment for their children.  [36]  Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children aged 6 to 12. [37]  These include traffic accidents, pedestrian accidents, drowning, accidental poisonings, burns, falls, farm machinery accidents, and other injuries.

The literature shows that youth living in poverty have a teen pregnancy rate which is five times the average [38]. Socio-economic circumstances seem to play a major role in rates of teen pregnancy.  Young mothers have a higher risk of having a low birth-weight baby [39].  These babies are more likely to have illness, developmental problems and disability [40].  Poor children are twice as likely as non-poor children to be born prematurely and with low birth weight, and to die before 30 days of age [41]

There is strong association between childhood depression and risk factors such as poverty, homelessness, stress and family disruption. [42]



33. Child and Youth Health Network for Eastern Ontario, Environmental Scan: Summary Document of Key Issues and Priority Themes, Fall 1997

34. Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health, Toward a Healthy Future Second Report on the Health of Canadians, 1999, pg. 14

35. Ross, D.P., Roberts, P., Income and child Well-being: A New Perspective on the Poverty Debate, Canadian Council on Social Development, 1999, pg. 35

36. Hanvey, L., Avard, D., Graham, I., underwood, K., Campbell, J., Kelly, D. The Health of Canada’s Children: A CICH Profile, Ottawa, Canadian Institute of Child Health, 1994

37. Health Canada, Centres of Excellence for Children’s Well-Being, February 1999, pg. 8

38. Report on the National Recreation Roundtable Report on physical Activity and Recreation: Providing Opportunities for Children and Youth in Poverty, hosted by Health Canada and the ISRC, November 1998, pg, 4

39. Region of Ottawa-Carelton, Health Department, Starting off well, Ottawa, August 1999

40. Ottawa-Carleton Health Department, Child Poverty and Health: What Role for the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department, Ottawa ,October 1997

41. Campaign 2000, Report Card on Child Poverty in Canada, 1997, pg. 6

42. Children’s Mental Health Ontario (May 2001). Evidence based practices for depression in children and adolescents. Toronto:

All references for this section