Children from low-income families face greater safety risks

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released a report demonstrating that children from low-income families are at greater risk for unintentional injuries and foodborne illnesses than children from higher-income families. That means that 44% of children in the United States are affected as living in low-income families, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.

The report, Child Poverty, Unintentional Injuries and Foodborne Illness: Are Low-Income Children at Greater Risk?, is based on incomplete statistical information and dozens of academic studies, sponsored by UL (Underwriters Laboratories). Forums are planned that bring together groups of experts and other interested parties to discuss related problems and solutions.  

The report identified:

  • Unintentional injuries represent the leading cause of death and injury for children between the ages of one and fourteen.  Each year, such injuries are responsible for about 5,000 child deaths, about 5 million child emergency room visits, and millions more unreported injuries.
  • These injuries are suffered disproportionately by children from low-income families
  • Higher injury rates are related both to environmental factors – e.g., more hazardous streets, unsafe playgrounds, older and less safe houses and appliances – and to human factors – e.g., higher incidence of smoking, less income to afford safety precautions, less parental supervision in single-parent families, and less knowledge about product safety and prevention.
  • Children under 15 years of age account for roughly half of all foodborne illness. Children under 5 years of age are particularly vulnerable, experiencing the highest rates of infection for Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7 and other shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacteria (STEC).
  • Economic deprivation increases the likelihood of bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections. Higher rates of particular foodborne illnesses are linked to factors such as poorer nutrition, greater exposure to food safety risks in retail stores located in lower-income neighbourhoods, and poorer access to health care. 

Rachel Weintraub, CFA’s Legislative Director and product safety expert said: “This issue needs more attention from researchers, safety groups, social welfare groups, government agencies, and businesses selling related products.” Chris Waldrop, Director of CFA’s Food Policy Institute added: “Collecting more and better data related to family income would greatly improve our understanding of these safety issues.”


More information:

Source: The Consumer Federation of America