Fort Worth,
10:06 AM

Top 5 Health Risks Facing Local Children

Survey Breaks Down Issues Facing Families in Tarrant County & Surrounding Areas

If you had to guess the biggest health issues facing children in Fort Worth and surrounding areas, what would you say?

Obesity? That's one.

Car accidents? That's a big risk too.

But would you guess the number one issue is asthma?

In Tarrant County, 19.5 percent of children suffer from asthma, according to data gathered in a survey sent to parents by The Center for Children's Health led by Cook Children's. The Community-wide Children's Health Assessment and Planning Survey (CCHAPS) was completed by more than 8,600 parents in Tarrant, Denton, Hood, Wise, Parker and Johnson counties.

"We questioned parents on everything from how often their child is buckled in properly to how many grocery stores in their neighborhood sell fresh fruits and vegetables," said Larry Tubb, senior vice president of the Center for Children’s Health. "The information we are gathering is extremely valuable when it comes to measuring the overall health of children in our region."

Overwhelmingly, parents in Tarrant County (and all of the surveyed counties) reported their children are dealing with asthma. In fact, children in this area ages 6-9 are three times more likely to have asthma than children living in other parts of Texas. While we don't know why the numbers are so high, we do know people with asthma have varying triggers, and what affects one person will not necessarily affect another. Those triggers include, but are not limited to, cigarette smoke, indoor and outdoor mold, pet dander, air pollution, dust mites, cockroaches, pollen, smoke and strong odors.

The second biggest health issue on parents minds is obesity, with 17.8 percent reporting concerns about their child's weight, activity level and access to healthy foods.

Accidental injuries rings in third. In Tarrant County, 11.9 percent of parents reported their children had been injured and required medical care. Those injuries range from car and ATV-related incidents to drowning, bicycle falls and crashes.

The fourth issue on the list is a lack of dental care for children. Parents reported 9.7 percent of children either didn't see a dentist regularly, didn't brush their teeth enough or some even reported their child didn't have their own toothbrush.

Finally, mental illness is the fifth biggest issue concerning parents in Tarrant County. Behavioral and emotional development is on the minds of 8.5 percent of respondents. Many reported their children have suffered sleep problems, self-esteem issues or have tried to harm themselves.

The survey used to gather this data is part of a Cook Children's initiative to improve the health and well-being of every child in our six-county region by 2020. This initiative launched in 2009 with the very first survey of its kind sent to parents. Since then, the surveys have been sent out every three years.

"The information provided by parents in our community is available on-line and being used by a host of organizations, including Cook Children’s, to build programs and services. There isn’t one perfect answer, but, together we are making solid progress in improving the health of the children in our community by putting the child and family at the center of our planning," said Tubb.

About The Center for Children's Health

The Center for Children's Health, led by Cook Children's, is home to the Community-wide Children's Health Assessment & Planning Survey (CCHAPS), Community Health Outreach and Community Health Research. The center's goal is to create aligned collaborations that will allow us to make our North Texas region one of the healthiest places to raise a child.