Today pediatricians may soon be asking families about the financial situation. The American Academy of Pediatrics is including in its policy statement that doctors should ask parents if they have any difficulties to make ends meet due that it is considered that money can affect in a certain way the child’s health.

A visit to the pediatrician involves him or her having a word with mommy and daddy about the child’s nutrition, sleep patterns, TV time etc. Now according to the new guidelines and taking into consideration that nearly half of the American children are living in poverty or really close to this term, it is the pediatrician’s duty to take care of this matter since it can end up to be another health problem that soon or later might affect the child.

Photo: GETTY
Photo: GETTY

The Academic’s political statement published this week leaves no doubt that living in poverty is definitely a torment and it sure affects an individual’s life. In addition to raising the risk of preterm birth and stunting cognitive development, poverty can impair immune function, contribute to psychiatric disorders and foster cardiovascular disease.

“Child poverty is associated with lifelong hardship,” the academy’s statement declares.

Dr. Benard Dreyer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician whose New York city patients are going through a poverty situation, called poverty as a chronic disease of children, the most serious chronic disease they have. Pediatricians must become the family’s new friend, take the trust they have built together and fight this problem before it is too late.

Pediatricians investigate many other symptoms and sometimes parents will not share their economic details with the doctor thinking that problems –as bringing food to the table or keeping a roof over their children’s head– aren’t problems at all. However, pediatricians have the mission to convince the parents that these non-healthy problems can actually turn into a very dangerous illness.

Numbers never lie

In the United States, some 31.5 million children, roughly 43%, are victims of poverty and live under, at or near the federal poverty line, defined as household income of less than $20,090 for a family of three or $15,930 for a family of two. Fully 6.8 million of those kids live in deep poverty, defined as subsisting on less than half that amount.

Doctor Dreyer said that it is important for pediatricians to keep the contact with the families they are treating, each visit should be a step closer to family and doctor, the pediatrician should always keep a list of local addresses and phone numbers, and encourage the parent to make contact with the offices that suits the situation best.

A pediatrician’s encouragement to seek services in the interests of a child’s health “has been shown in research to make a big difference,” Dreyer said.

Programs to lend you a hand

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement lists a variety of programs with the goal of supporting these families in need reducing the effects of poverty and increasing the access of money, social services and care Among those programs are the earned income tax credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, food stamps, and a home-visiting program for parents of infants and young children established under the Affordable Care Act.

Source: The LA Times