Childrens health

New Zealand children’s health in a ‘grim’ state, Cure Kids report

Less than 60% of New Zealand children brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey, File

From RNZ

An attempt to capture the current health of children has highlighted a grim picture of the increase in dental disease, skin infections and respiratory problems.

Cure Kids, which today releases its first annual report on the state of children’s health, says hospital admission rates are increasing for those under 15 and will only get worse if measures are not taken.

Mother of four Stacey Kale has twins Grace and Amelia who were born prematurely with chronic lung disease.

Now 3 years old, they go to hospital regularly and risk going to intensive care if they come into contact with someone who is sick.

Simon and Stacey Kale with their children Mason and twins Grace and Amelia.  Photo / Paul Taylor, Dossier
Simon and Stacey Kale with their children Mason and twins Grace and Amelia. Photo / Paul Taylor, Dossier

Stacey said the family home has become dry and hot and that she is urging others with sick children to do the same.

“We just have to make sure we’re really careful… these are the people who don’t stay home or take care of things early… if they stay home and are better instead of being in the house. community to spread things because there are so many people who are so vulnerable and really struggling to fight it, ”she said.

Data collected from hospital admissions, the New Zealand Health Survey and oral health organizations show that dental disease in children, respiratory ailments and skin infections are all increasing.

Hospital admission rates are highest among Maori and Pasifika children, as well as children under 5 years of age.

Cure Kids CEO Frances Benge called the reading grim.

She said about 40,000 New Zealand children go to hospital each year for preventable illnesses.

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“Look, some of the barriers include physical lack of access – so distance, poor understanding of health, poor living conditions, lack of nutrition,” she said.

Less than 60% of children brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

About four in 10 Kiwi children in 10 suffer from some form of tooth decay.

Benge said without intervention, hospital visits for tooth decay would only get worse.

“There is a very bad practice of toothbrushing and it is with all New Zealand children – so it is definitely something that education, health prioritization and research into the reasons for. which our children are vulnerable to tooth decay can be reversed, ”she said.

Respiratory conditions are the leading cause of acute hospital admissions, with parents worrying about common signs such as coughing and wheezing.

Auckland senior pediatrician Simon Rowley said early living conditions could eventually lead to more serious illnesses.

Pediatrician Dr Simon Rowley.  Photo / Dean Purcell, Dossier
Pediatrician Dr Simon Rowley. Photo / Dean Purcell, Dossier

“Tooth decay can lead to such serious general health – especially the heart – but also the way children feel – and blood infection,” he said.

The research was conducted by the University of Otago.

Director and clinical epidemiologist Dr Mavis Duncanson said a strong public health system should be able to promote and improve children’s health.

“There are serious issues that we need to address in order for every child to live their best life and enjoy the health that should truly be their right,” she said.

Next year’s research will focus on children’s mental health, obesity and nutrition.


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