The health of children and families in Solano County has improved over the past year, but minorities continue to have higher rates of teen pregnancy and low-birthweight infants than whites, according to a report released Monday by the Children's Network of Solano County, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Solano County Children's Report Card 2003, which is funded by the California Endowment, found that the county has reduced the number of uninsured children to less than 5%, one of the lowest rates in the state. However, that rate is "threatened" by the county's population growth, the Chronicle reports. The county, which has a population of 395,000, has grown 3% faster than the statewide average over the past 10 years. The report found that although 44% of the county's overall population is comprised of minorities, 53% of the county's population age five and younger is comprised of minorities.
According to the report, the pregnancy rate for 15- to 17-year-old girls is seven per 1,000 white teens, compared with 30 per 1,000 black teens and 45 per 1,000 Hispanic teens. The report also found that less than 75% of pregnant women in the county receive prenatal care in their first trimester. In addition, the report found that 6.8% of infants born in the county between 1996 and 1999 had low birthweight, one of the highest rates in the state. The rate was 12% among blacks and 8% among Asians -- both substantially higher than that of whites. Low birthweight rates among Hispanics and other minorities were low but have increased in recent years, according to the report. The report also found that childhood obesity has reached "epidemic proportions," as more than 15% of children ages two to five and more than 20% of children ages five to 20 are overweight or obese, the Chronicle reports.
Gina Gonzales-Baley, coordinator of the county's perinatal services program, said that county health workers have noticed an increase in problem pregnancies in the last three years, according to the Chronicle. Norma Thigpen, senior health and social services manager with the Black Infant Health Program in Vallejo, said that more funding and programs that target Solano's minority population are needed, the Chronicle reports (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8). The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat to view the report.