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A number of health-related conditions can interfere with a child’s ability to be ready for school – or function at his or her potential in the classroom. Here are some examples of preventable or manageable conditions that are known to reduce learning capacity:
· Poor vision is a major factor in prohibiting children from learning. And black or Hispanic middle and high school students are more likely to have untreated vision issues than white students. Additionally, studies show that vision problems correlate to lower overall standardized achievement test scores.
· Hearing loss is estimated to affect more than 10% of elementary school-aged children. When chronic middle ear infections are left untreated, kids may suffer from development delay, hearing loss, and not being ready for school.
· Asthma is another major health factor in school performance, and one of the most common chronic diseases among children. Nationally, one in ten school-aged child has asthma, and it is estimated that 12.8 million school days are missed each year specifically because of asthma.The stats are even worse for poor children, where is it estimated that 18% nationwide have asthma versus 12% of non-poor children.
· Dental pain and oral health issues have profound effects on the health of young children. It has been estimated that more than 22% of children ages 6-19 suffer from dental caries. Dental issues are estimated to account for more than 51 million hours of missed school each year.
· Mental health and behavioral disorders are just as disruptive to a child’s education as physical ailments. The most common form of behavioral challenges suffered by children is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By middle school, kids with ADHD have significantly lower academic achievement, miss more school days, and are three times more likely to repeat a grade than non-diagnosed children.
· Elevated lead levels in children may not be recognized without proper testing of a blood sample. Many children, with even mildly elevated blood lead levels, will have behavioral issues or reduced cognitive and learning capacity.
· Persistent anemia, including from iron-deficiency, may cause sluggishness, chronic lethargy and poor school performance.
· Hunger affects more than 16 million children in the U.S. Persistent hunger is well-known to cause fatigue and discomfort, interfering with a child’s ability to function in school.