A Medical Surprise

A comprehensive nationwide survey of children has some cheerful news for Indians.


Given the alarming rates of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases among Indians, a health check of their children offers some surprising relief.
The National Health Interview Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control finds that Indian children have half the rate of chronic health problems as children nationwide. Only 0.1 percent of Asian Indian children rated their health as fair or poor, one-tenth that of other children.

The 1997-2000 surveys which were analyzed in the journal Pediatrics, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that Indian children were far less likely to miss school because of illness or injury, half as likely to take prescription medication and had one-tenth the risk of learning disability as well as a far lower rate of physical disabilities than other children.
The authors concluded that, “Compared with the US-born, immigrants generally have more favorable behavioral, familial, and social support characteristics” and “noncitizen immigrant children had better health than their US-born counterparts.”

The authors noted, however, that “higher levels of acculturation and assimilation” leads to “less favorable health,” which should serve as a caution to the community as it settles into the country.


Furthermore, the study noted, “Although Asian ethnicity and immigrant status are associated with better health among children,”it operates negatively in health access and utilization.

Nearly 15 percent of Indian children lacked health insurance, twice that for Whites and more than a quarter had no contact with a physician during the previous year, substantially higher than the national average. Almost one in eight Indian children were in poverty, which was also higher than that for Whites. Almost one in three Indian parents lacked health insurance, at par with the national average.

The study found that “the mother&’s educational attainment and family’s poverty status were independent risk factors” for several indicators, which might have contributed to the improved scores for Indians.

Nearly 57 percent of the mothers of Indian children had a college degree, the highest for any group and more than twice the national average. Almost three quarters of Indian children were U.S. born. By contrast, 96 percent of their parents were foreign born.

WhitesIndiansOther Asians
Fair/Poor Health1.2%.0.1%1.2%
Congenital Diseases2.91.80.6
Chronic Conditions16.515.120.9
Missed School.
Physical impairment.
Used Prescription Medication11.34.95.4
Learning Disability8.00.81.9
No Health Insurance8.414.913.9
No Physician Contact in Year19.328.126.2
No Health Check up in Year27.026.130.3
Delayed Health Care for Cost7.36.27.2
No Regular Health Care Place1.71.96.3
Parent Lacks Health Insurance37.133.342.5
Parent Has Physicial Limitation12.66.112.0
Source: “Health Status and Health Services Utilization Among US Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, and Other Asian/Pacific Islander Children,” by Stella M. Yu, Zhihuan J. Huang and Gopal K. Singh, Pediatrics. Vol 113, No 1.

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