Pediatrics market still growing, changing

July 15, 2011

The number of children in the United States was 74.2 million in 2010 and is expected to reach 88 million by 2030, according to a recent government report. The market is not only growing, but changing, which may present new challenges for pediatricians in understanding cultural differences and even the language spoken by parents. See the stats on what to expect.

The number of children in the United States was 74.2 million in 2010 and is expected to reach 88 million by 2030.

That’s according to the just-released report, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011, from the Office of Management and Budget and 6 other federal agencies.

The market is not only growing, but it’s also changing, which may present new challenges for pediatricians in understanding cultural differences and even the language spoken by parents.

Currently, 54% of children are non-Hispanic white, 23% are Hispanic, 14% are black, and 4% are Asian. Since 1994, the number of children with foreign-born parents has increased from 15% to 23%. Only 6% of those children, however, lived in a home described as “linguistically isolated,” meaning that no one in the home over the age of 14 spoke English “very well.”

In addition to the growing number of children, the report included some other good news. The percentage of infants born preterm dropped for the third consecutive year, to 12.2%. The infant mortality rate also declined over the same period, dropping from 6.8 per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 6.4 in 2009.

The trend in vaccination was also encouraging. Since 2007, the percentage of adolescents vaccinated with at least 1 dose of Tdap nearly doubled, rising from 30% to 56%, and the rate of coverage with meningococcal conjugate vaccine increased from 32% to 54%. The percentage of adolescent girls who had started the human papillomavirus vaccine series also rose significantly, from 25% in 2007 to 44% in 2009.

Mental health indicators have remained fairly constant since 2004. In 2009, 8% of 12- to 17-year-olds experienced a major depressive episode (MDE), with girls suffering MDE at a rate more than twice as high as their male peers, 12% to 13% compared with 4% to 5%, respectively. The number of teens treated by a medical professional for depression, however, dropped from 40% to 35% over the 5 years.

As in other studies, America’s Children documents the rise in childhood obesity. From 1976 through 1980 only 6% of children aged 6 to 17 years were considered obese, whereas 19% were obese in 2007-2008. Equal percentages of boys and girls were obese.

A similar and possibly related increase in asthma has occurred. In 1980, 4% of children had asthma. By 2010, 10% had active asthma, and 14% had been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives.