Major Risks to Children's Health

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

This lesson will examine the major risks to children's health. We will also discuss some ways that these deaths could be prevented and will end with a quiz to test your knowledge.

Children's Health Risks

We've all seen the commercials that frequently play on television featuring hungry and crying children with flies all over their faces. The narrator pleads with us to donate to help the children. It is difficult to resist a child in need isn't it? Whenever we hear of a child stricken by illness or injury, our hearts sink because children are among the most vulnerable citizens on the planet. Tragically, in 2013, just over six million children under the age of five died, with infants at the highest risk. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this statistic is the fact that most of these deaths are preventable.


Injury kills more American children than any other cause. Globally, over one million kids die each year as a result of injury. Nearly all of these injuries are preventable with appropriate education and awareness. Take a moment to think back on the types of things you liked to do as a child. Did you ever get injured doing any of these things? Bicycling, climbing trees, trampolines, swimming, and team sports are all common sources of injury among children. Other frequent injuries include fire, car accidents, and choking.

So, how can we prevent these injuries to improve the health of children? We have come a long way in understanding and preventing injuries in children. Most team sports now require protective equipment to aid in prevention. Something as simple as a bike helmet or a car seat can be the difference between life and death for an injured child. In addition, basic supplies such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives in the case of fire.

Hunger and Malnutrition

Infants and children need quality foods and water for healthy and normal development, yet so many children lack these essentials. This lack of adequate food and nutrition causes about 300 children to die each and every hour. There are several important distinctions regarding hunger that are important to understand.

Hunger or starvation indicates a deficiency in caloric intake. In other words, hungry children simply do not have enough food to eat. This lack of food influences growth, learning and health in children. Malnutrition occurs when the food intake is lacking in vital micronutrients and vitamins, but this isn't always from a lack of food. For example, a kid who eats poor quality junk food may be malnourished even if he or she has enough food to eat. Malnutrition can cause many problems in terms of the growth and development of children. Not only does inadequate food and nutrition affect physical and cognitive development in children, but also it makes them much more prone to illness and disease, another major risk to children's health.

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