Skip Navigation Links
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


 CDC Home Search A-Z Index
Pediatric and Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System
Site Map Topic Index Glossary Bibliography Help
Illustration of a mother and children
Home
Pediatric Data Tables
Pregnancy Data Tables
Publications
What Is PedNSS/PNSS?
How To...
 Read A Data Table
 Review Data Quality
 Interpret Data
 What
 When
 Where
 Who
 Who and When
 Case Study: Obesity
 Case Study: Breastfeeding
 Case Study: Low Birthweight
 Disseminate Data
Additional Tools

How To... - Interpret Data
What health indicators are public health problems?

To identify health problems in your program:

  1. Examine the prevalence of the health indicators of your population included in the PedNSS and PNSS tables by looking at the Summary of Health Indicator Tables (PedNSS Table 2C and PNSS Table 2C) that describe the overall prevalence of all health indicators collected by these systems.

  2. Compare the prevalence of your health indicators to other populations within PedNSS and PNSS as well as to the general population prevalences or Healthy People 2010 objectives to determine if the specific health indicators are health problems.

Definition: Prevalence indicates the proportion of individuals in a population with a given health indicator at a given time or over a specified period of time. For more, see How to Calculate Prevalence.


Comparison of PedNSS and PNSS Data to Other Data

Although the PedNSS and PNSS data are predominately from low-income women, infants, and children participating in public health programs, it is appropriate to compare the PedNSS or PNSS prevalence of health indicators to national health objectives, other surveys, or surveillance systems of the U.S. population of women, infants, and children to identify public health problems.

Data that can be used for comparison include:

  1. The Healthy People 2010 objectives,

  2. Reference population expected rates,

  3. U.S. population-based surveys such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

A discussion of each of these data sources follows.

Examples of Data to Use for Comparison


1. Healthy People 2010 Objectives

Healthy People 2010 objectives were designed to serve as goals for monitoring progress towards improving the health status of the nation. Although, the 2010 Objectives were established for the general population, they are also appropriate for the low-income populations included in PedNSS and PNSS. In fact, some objectives are specific to low income population groups. Additionally, several Healthy People 2010 objectives can be monitored using PedNSS and PNSS.


2. Reference Population Expected Rates

A reference population is the standard against which a population that is being studied can be compared. Reference populations were used to develop two common screening tools in the United States:

These screening tools are not only used to determine an individual's risk for a health problem but they are also used to determine if a population has a greater prevalence of a health indicator than expected when compared to the reference population, often referred to as the reference population expected rate.


3. U.S. Population Surveys and Surveillance

Data from surveys, such as NHANES, are representative of the U.S. population and can be used for comparing the program-based data from PedNSS and PNSS, as long as the differences in the populations that each represent are understood.

The primary difference between U.S. population-based surveys or surveillance systems and the PedNSS and PNSS are as follows:

  • PedNSS and PNSS were not developed to provide data representative of the general population of women and children in the state, but rather to provide information about the women and children served by public health programs.
  • PedNSS and PNSS are referred to as program-based surveillance systems because they are based on data routinely collected for women and children participating in public health programs serving low income populations.
  • These data are not representative of all low income women and children in the country or in a state. However, the PedNSS and PNSS are representative of the population served by the state WIC program when all WIC clinics in a state collect PedNSS and PNSS data. This surveillance information is used for planning and evaluating the public health program.


Comparisons of Populations Within PedNSS and PNSS

PedNSS and PNSS data can be used to make comparisons among participating public health programs within each surveillance system.

  • One geographic area can be compared to a larger geographic area to which it belongs, for example state to nation or county to state.
  • Comparisons of populations within PedNSS and PNSS can be made from one geographic area to another geographic area such as one state to the neighboring states or one county to another county.

For each health indicator, several comparisons of prevalence data can be made using the PedNSS and PNSS tables.

  • The Summary of Health Indicators tables can be used to examine the overall prevalence. These tables also can be used to compare the prevalence of a health indicator of one geographic area to another within the state, between states, or between the state and the nation.
  • The Health Indicator by Demographic Variables tables can be used to determine if the prevalence of a health indicator differs by age, race/ethnic, and education groups. These tables provide age, race/ethnic, or education specific prevalence for a health indicator and can also be used to compare one geographic area to another within the state, between states, or between the state and the nation.
  • The Summary of Demographic Indicators tables can be used in conjunction with Summary of Health Indicators tables to determine if the age, race/ethnic, or education distributions are similar or different when comparing one geographic area to another.
  • When one specific demographic characteristic (age, race/ethnic, or education) is very different in one population compared to another, the prevalence of the health indicator can be affected. For example, if the prevalence of overweight in your state is the same as the national PedNSS prevalence, yet, the national PedNSS has a much higher proportion of Hispanic children you may want to conduct an additional analysis to determine if the differences in distribution of Hispanic children affected the prevalence of overweight. Standardization is a technique used to make the populations more comparable for a specific demographic characteristic thus, making the prevalence of the health indicator of interest also comparable.

Learn how to calculate standardized rates using an example of standardization of state prevalence to national race/ethnic distributions.

back to top

Page last reviewed: October 29, 2009
Page last updated: October 29, 2009
Content Source: Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

 

 



Policies and Regulations | Accessibility

CDC Home | Search | A-Z Index

United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity