Children’s Environmental Health
The environment affects children differently than adults. Because their bodies are still growing, children are at greater risk if they are exposed to environmental contaminants.
We Track That
Children are not little adults—their bodies are not the same as adult bodies. Because they are small and still developing, they are more easily exposed to environmental contaminants and here’s why:
- Children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food per pound of body weight than adults.
- Children are more likely to put their hands in their mouth.
- A child’s body may not be able to break down and get rid of harmful contaminants that enter their body.
- Health problems from an environmental exposure can take years to develop. Because they are young, children have more time to develop health conditions and diseases than adults who are exposed later in their life.
Types of Data
The Tracking Network’s information on children’s environmental health can help you understand how you can protect children from environmental exposures so they can live a safer, healthier lives.
Asthma Prevalence among Children
Prevalence estimates are organized by different variables to estimate the number of people with asthma in different time periods and geographic areas, such as states and counties. These data are collected from the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), CDC’s National Asthma Control Program’s Asthma Call-back Survey (ACBS), and from CDC’s Population Level Analysis and Community Estimates (PLACES) Project. PLACES data on the Tracking Network are available at the census tract level for all 50 states.
These indicators allow for a better understanding of spatial and temporal patterns of selected cancers suggested to be linked to environmental exposures within states. The number of cases provides cancer burden for a specific geography and/or population subgroup; age-adjusted rates allow people to compare cancer occurrence across larger geographic areas and/or population subgroups. Such information is vital for hypothesis generating and further developing linkage studies to evaluate environmental impacts on cancer. These data come from U.S. Cancer Statistics, which includes cancer incidence data from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Programexternal icon. Indicators include:
This indicator uses census data to provide information about the number of homes built before 1950 and homes built from 1950-1979. Living in an older home is one risk factor that can contribute to higher blood lead levels in children. Census data do not account for the number of older houses that have been renovated or have had lead removed; and this indicator does not consider other sources of lead in the community.
The developmental disabilities data are provided by two sources the U.S. Department of Education and CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring Network. Data are available at the state level for different age groups. Not all states or years are represented in the data. The Tracking Network has data for two developmental disability indicators:
These indicators can help determine how health problems and disease can happen in a population, or group of people, over time. These characteristics may be related to the number of new and existing cases of a particular disease in children. Socioeconomic factors, such as education, occupation, and income, are conditions that may affect how children live. Indicators include:
View different children’s environmental health data sets side-by-side on our Data Explorer tool. Try it!
- Association of Maternal and Child Health Programsexternal icon
- Children’s Environmental Health Networkexternal icon
- Environmental Protection Agencyexternal icon
- EPA-America’s Children and the Environmentexternal icon
- National Institute of Environmental Health Studiesexternal icon
- Children’s Environmental Health Infographic