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What worries parents about the health of children

Top 10 child health problems: more concern for sexting, internet safety.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.–  In this year’s ninth annual survey of top health concerns conducted by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, adults rate childhood obesity, bullying, and drug abuse as the top health concerns for kids across the U.S.

These three concerns were the same top-ranked child health problems as in 2014. But this year, Internet safety was the 4th most commonly identified “big problem”, up from #8 in 2014. Sexting received the biggest change in rating this year, from #13 in 2014 to #6 in 2015.

Smoking has consistently been rated at or near the top of the list of health problems for kids from the perspective of adults (not just parents). However, in 2015 concern about smoking and tobacco use dropped from #4 in 2014 to #7 in 2015.

Other child health concerns

• Unsafe neighborhoods (40%)

• Alcohol abuse (39%)

• Sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS (38%)

• Depression (38%)

• Suicide (37%)

• Hunger (34%)

• Not enough opportunities for physical activity (31%)

• Gun-related injuries (30%)

• Motor vehicle accidents (30%)

• Attention deficit disorder (26%)

• Autism (24%)

• Safety of medications (17%)

• Safety of vaccines (15%)

• Infant mortality (13%), and

• Food allergies ( 13%).

Although hunger and infant mortality were perceived less often as “big problems” than other health concerns for kids across the U.S., these opinions changed when respondents were presented with current statistics on hunger and infant mortality. After current information was presented about the number of children affected, hunger was rated as a “big problem” for children in the U.S. by 54% of respondents (up from 34%), and infant mortality was rated as a “big problem” by 23% of adults (up from 13%).

Differences in perceptions of “Big problems” by race/ethnicity

While groups of white, black and Hispanic adults all list childhood obesity and bullying among the top three child health issues, Hispanic adults list child abuse and neglect as the #3 health concern for kids across the U.S. Black adults list depression #4, alcohol abuse #7 and hunger as #10 in the top 10 health concerns. (SOURCE: University of Michigan)

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