Children's Health in Arkansas: The Good And Bad News

Mar 13, 2014

A new report on the state of children's health in Arkansas highlights some big wins and some areas of concern.

It says more Arkansas children are likely to receive immunizations than they were seven years ago but notes children need better access to mental health services, more nutritious meals, and consistent health education.

The report is put together by a partnership of health care providers, state agencies, and other health organizations.

Scott Gordon, the executive vice president of Arkansas Children's Hospital, points out the number of children receiving immunizations has increased by 15 percent in the past few years. But, he says the use of philosophical exemptions from childhood immunizations has actually skyrocketed since 2003, increasing nearly sevenfold.

Gordon says significant strides have been made in areas like injury prevention and oral health. He notes Arkansas has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of teen deaths by automobile and that over the past five years the number of children ages 6 to 9 who have dental sealants to protect their teeth from decay has increased by 12 percent.

The report says other areas needing to be addressed include the state's infant mortality rate. Deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are almost twice the national average.