Hitting the Cognitive Wall by Third Grade?

Roundup: Only about a third of U.S. 9-year-olds score at or above the national average in math, reading, and science; the results for black, Hispanic, and low-income kids are even more discouraging.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Rob MacPherson, Lifestyle-education-US-writing Christian Buzzerd (L), a teacher at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School in Ellicott City, Maryland, conducts a language arts class on October 15, 2013. For third-grade pupils at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School, learning to write joined-up letters is a no-brainer, but outside the classroom, grown-up Americans are debating whether the nation's children should be studying cursive at all. AFP PHOTO / Robert MacPherson (Photo credit should read Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images)
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Jody Brannon
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Dec. 3, 2013, 5:53 a.m.

These stor­ies, re­flect­ing is­sues rel­ev­ant to race and health dis­par­it­ies, are from Novem­ber.

MOST POOR CHIL­DREN LAG BE­HIND IN COG­NIT­IVE SKILLS, HARM­ING COL­LEGE READ­I­NESS. Only 19 per­cent of low-in­come third-graders have “age-ap­pro­pri­ate cog­nit­ive skills,” ac­cord­ing to a policy re­port re­leased by the An­nie E. Ca­sey Found­a­tion. That num­ber is a sub­stan­tial drop from chil­dren in high­er-in­come fam­il­ies, with 50 per­cent of those third-graders hit­ting the age mile­stones. Sev­en­teen mil­lion kids un­der 9 are con­sidered low in­come, a pop­u­la­tion the re­port says is at strongest risk for long-term de­vel­op­ment­al set­backs. The data show that by grade three, only 36 per­cent of stu­dents scored at or above the na­tion­al av­er­age on math, read­ing, and sci­ence ex­ams, with even more dis­cour­aging res­ults for black, His­pan­ic, and low-in­come stu­dents. Only 14 per­cent of black stu­dents, and few­er than 20 per­cent of low-in­come and His­pan­ic stu­dents, scored at or above the na­tion­al av­er­age. A third-grader who reads be­low grade level is four times less likely to gradu­ate from high school on time. NBC Latino

  • MORE ABOUT ‘THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS: GIV­ING KIDS A FOUND­A­TION FOR LIFE­TIME SUC­CESS.’ Hechinger Re­port

HEALTH DIS­PAR­IT­IES PER­SIST AMONG MINOR­IT­IES IN U.S. Des­pite pro­gress in some areas, health dis­par­it­ies re­main for many Amer­ic­ans in 29 eval­u­ated cat­egor­ies, in­clud­ing in­equal­it­ies re­lated to race and eth­ni­city, says a U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion re­port. Among the key find­ings: His­pan­ics, low-wage earners, those with only a high school edu­ca­tion, men and those born out­side the United States are most likely to take high-risk jobs; tuber­cu­los­is re­mains dis­pro­por­tion­ately high among ra­cial and eth­nic minor­it­ies and those born out­side the U.S.; dia­betes rates are highest among His­pan­ics and blacks; the in­fant death rate for blacks is two times high­er than for white in­fants; and blacks are 50 per­cent more likely to die of heart dis­ease or stroke pre­ma­turely than whites. Health

SUR­VEY: AMER­IC­AN CHOICES AROUND DEATH DIF­FER BY RE­LI­GION AND RACE. Death may be in­ev­it­able, but one in three Amer­ic­ans — and about two-thirds of blacks and His­pan­ics — want doc­tors to fight it, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter’s Re­li­gion and Pub­lic Life Pro­ject. Also, re­cent stat­ist­ics from the Na­tion­al Hos­pice and Pal­li­at­ive Care Or­gan­iz­a­tion show 83 per­cent of hos­pice pa­tients are white, com­pared with blacks (about 9 per­cent) and His­pan­ics (7 per­cent), re­flect­ing a dis­com­fort among some with end-of-life is­sues. Re­li­gion News Ser­vice

  • LATINO ELD­ERS AND PRE­PAR­ING FOR THE LAST PHASE OF LIFE. Lat­ina Lista 

BINGE DRINK­ING COM­MON FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENI­ORS. About 20 per­cent of U.S. high school seni­ors re­port binge drink­ing, or con­sum­ing five or more al­co­hol­ic drinks in a row, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished by JAMA Pe­di­at­rics. In a na­tion­ally rep­res­ent­at­ive sample of 16,332 high school seni­ors (52.3 per­cent fe­male, 64.5 per­cent white, 11 per­cent black, 13.1 per­cent His­pan­ic, and 11.5 per­cent of oth­er race/eth­ni­city),  boys, whites of either gender, and stu­dents whose par­ents are col­lege edu­cated are the most likely to binge. Booze News 

HEALTHY­HIS­PAN­ICLIV­ING.COM LAUNCHES. The Cen­ter for His­pan­ic Lead­er­ship has star­ted a pre­vent­ive care on­line edu­ca­tion­al portal aimed at Amer­ica’s grow­ing Latino com­munity. Tar­get­ing the 16.2 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion that is His­pan­ic/Latino (or 55 mil­lion people), the site will provide health care in­form­a­tion tar­geted at His­pan­ics and ad­dress spe­cif­ic needs such as im­prov­ing vac­cin­a­tion rates and obesity. PR News­wire 

BLACK PA­TIENTS SKIP­PING LOWER-COST MEDS. Afric­an-Amer­ic­an pa­tients may feel less com­fort­able than white pa­tients ask­ing doc­tors if they can take cheap­er drugs, a re­cent sur­vey from an emer­gency de­part­ment shows. The re­search­ers sup­port re­com­mend­a­tions that doc­tors talk with pa­tients about drugs cost and ways to re­duce costs, which may also help people ad­here to their pre­scribed med­ic­a­tions. Re­u­ters 

RA­CISM LINKED TO DE­PRES­SION AND ANXI­ETY IN YOUTH. Chil­dren and young people ex­per­i­ence poor men­tal health, de­pres­sion, and anxi­ety fol­low­ing ex­per­i­ences of ra­cism, ac­cord­ing to a re­view of 461 cases that linked ra­cism and health. “The re­view showed there are strong and con­sist­ent re­la­tion­ships between ra­cial dis­crim­in­a­tion and a range of det­ri­ment­al health out­comes such as low self-es­teem, re­duced re­si­li­ence, in­creased be­ha­viour prob­lems, and lower levels of well-be­ing,” the lead re­search­er said. Most stud­ies re­viewed were con­duc­ted in the U.S. with people of col­or ages 12 to18. Uni­versity of Mel­bourne 

THE PHYS­I­CIAN WILL TEXT YOU NOW. So­cial-me­dia fol­low-ups between dia­bet­ic pa­tients, es­pe­cially Lati­nos, and their phys­i­cians after a vis­it to an emer­gency room showed im­prove­ment in their level of con­trol over their con­di­tion and their med­ic­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a study in the An­nals of Emer­gency Medi­cine. The Ex­am­iner

U.S. RANKS WORST IN PREEM­IE BIRTHS. The United States rated av­er­age for pre­term birth rates and ranks be­hind oth­er de­veloped coun­tries des­pite the num­ber fall­ing for the sixth-con­sec­ut­ive year. The 2012 na­tion­wide rate for pre­ma­ture ba­bies dropped to 11.5 per­cent, a 15-year low, ac­cord­ing to the March of Dimes Pre­ma­ture Birth Re­port Card. “We would like to see them go down at a faster rate, but … Ver­mont ranked highest with a rate of 8.7 per­cent, but Mis­sis­sippi placed in last with 17.1 per­cent,” a March of Dimes of­fi­cial said. This year the found­a­tion ad­ded race and eth­ni­city as a factor to ana­lyze be­cause of con­cern about health care in­equal­it­ies. The rates for pre­ma­ture birth were Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans (16.8 per­cent), fol­lowed by His­pan­ics (11.7 per­cent), nat­ive Amer­ic­ans (13.6 per­cent), whites (10.5 per­cent), and Asi­ans (10.3 per­cent). MS­N­BC 

OUT­REACH TO HIS­PAN­ICS MAY BOOST OR­GAN DONA­TION. Latino/His­pan­ic-Amer­ic­ans, the fast­est grow­ing seg­ment of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, have a grow­ing need for donated or­gans, re­search­ers say, and cre­at­ive out­reach pro­grams could raise the num­ber will­ing to donate or­gans. After a ra­dio and TV blitz in four South­ern Cali­for­nia com­munit­ies, re­search­ers found a 55 per­cent in­crease (from 12 per­cent to 18 per­cent) in His­pan­ics who said they would donate their or­gans Re­u­ters 

IN­SUR­ANCE AND THE AF­FORD­ABLE CARE ACT

EN­ROLLING ASI­AN-AMER­IC­ANS BRINGS CHAL­LENGES. Health care work­ers and ad­voc­ates must con­sider dozens of lan­guages and dia­lects — from Bengali to Ta­ga­log — when com­mu­nic­at­ing Af­ford­able Care Act de­tails with the ap­prox­im­ately 3 mil­lion Asi­an-Amer­ic­ans who have trouble speak­ing and un­der­stand­ing Eng­lish. About 2.5 mil­lion Asi­an-Amer­ic­ans lack cov­er­age, ac­cord­ing to 2012 census data, which is about 4 per­cent­age points high­er than the av­er­age for non-His­pan­ic whites. “It’s not one size fits all — you have to tail­or the mes­sages,” said Priscilla Huang of the Asi­an and Pa­cific Is­lander Amer­ic­an Health For­um. About 12 per­cent of Asi­an-Amer­ic­ans live in poverty, though stat­ist­ic­ally Chinese and In­di­an Amer­ic­ans are more likely to be in­sured as they earn more than Vi­et­namese and Banglade­shi fam­il­ies, for in­stance. Kais­er Health News

OBAMA­CARE TO IM­PROVE MEN­TAL HEALTH CARE FOR HIS­PAN­ICS. One area of His­pan­ic health that will be­ne­fit from the ACA is the realm of men­tal health care. Ap­prox­im­ately 16 per­cent of His­pan­ics self-re­port an is­sue with men­tal health, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Sur­vey on Drug Use and Health, but only one in five His­pan­ics will seek care with a gen­er­al prac­ti­tion­er for their troubles, and few­er still — one in 11 — will seek the aid of a men­tal health spe­cial­ist. Voxxi

RACE A BIG­GER HEALTH CARE BAR­RI­ER THAN IN­SUR­ANCE STATUS. Blacks, His­pan­ics, and Asi­ans are less likely than non-His­pan­ic whites to vis­it a health care pro­fes­sion­al, even with health in­sur­ance, the Journ­al of Health Care for the Poor and Un­der­served re­ports. One reas­on might be be­cause of few­er health care pro­fes­sion­als serving minor­ity com­munit­ies. Health Be­ha­vi­or News Ser­vice via News­wise 

OPIN­ION: HIS­PAN­ICS WANT CUL­TUR­ALLY COM­PET­ENT HEALTH CARE PRO­VIDERS. Elena V. Ri­os, a phys­i­cian who is pres­id­ent of the Na­tion­al His­pan­ic Med­ic­al As­so­ci­ation, says that com­mu­nic­a­tion bar­ri­ers and fin­ances are likely the biggest hurdles to His­pan­ics seek­ing health care, but many His­pan­ics also do not trust their health care pro­viders due to a lack of cul­tur­ally sens­it­ive care. Voxxi 

OBESITY AND NU­TRI­TION

TOO MANY EMPTY CAL­OR­IES: A LOOK AT A TEXAS COM­MUNITY WITH BIG PROB­LEMS. A diet fueled by food stamps is mak­ing South Tex­ans obese but leav­ing them hungry. Hidalgo County has one of the highest poverty rates in the na­tion, with about 40 per­cent of res­id­ents re­ceiv­ing food stamps and re­ly­ing cheap, pro­cessed foods. In turn, the com­munity has dia­betes and obesity rates double the na­tion­al av­er­age and the highest per-cap­ita spend­ing on health care in the na­tion. For one of the first times any­where in the United States, chil­dren in South Texas have a pro­jec­ted life span that is a few years short­er than that of their par­ents. The Wash­ing­ton Post ex­plores a crisis at the heart of the Wash­ing­ton de­bate over food stamps: Has the massive growth of a gov­ern­ment feed­ing pro­gram solved a prob­lem, or cre­ated one? 

GIRLS’ DIET TIED TO EARLI­ER PU­BERTY. An im­port­ant study of young girls has de­term­ined that child­hood obesity is most likely the key driver be­hind the dis­turb­ing, and now widely ac­know­ledged, phe­nomen­on of girls start­ing pu­berty at a young­er age. The study, pub­lished in the journ­al Pe­di­at­rics, tracked the breast de­vel­op­ment of girls ages 6 to 8 in San Fran­cisco, Cin­cin­nati, and New York City. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “Girls with great­er BMI reached breast stage 2 [de­vel­op­ment] at young­er ages.” Eth­ni­city, too, was an im­port­ant factor: The “me­di­an age at on­set of breast stage 2 was 8.8, 9.3, 9.7, and 9.7 years for Afric­an-Amer­ic­an, His­pan­ic, white non-His­pan­ic, and Asi­an par­ti­cipants, re­spect­ively,” re­search­ers re­port. Health

  • COM­MENT­ARY: GIRLS AND EARLY PU­BERTY: IS IT MORE THAN JUST OBESITY? WBUR

OBESITY RATE ON RISE, EX­CEPT AMONG KIDS. The U.S. adult obesity rate is 27.2 per­cent, the highest level at this point in the year since Gal­lup-Health­ways star­ted track­ing it. Nearly every demo­graph­ic and so­cioeco­nom­ic group has ex­per­i­enced in­creases in obesity, par­tic­u­larly people ages 45 to 64 and people who make between $30,000 and $74,999 a year. Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans are the heav­iest group, with a 35.7 per­cent obesity rate. Earli­er this year, fed­er­al fig­ures showed that child­hood obesity is in de­cline. Huff­ing­ton Post

THE MESSY, MESSY RE­LA­TION­SHIP BETWEEN IN­COME (AND RACE) AND OBESITY. The groups with the low­est obesity rates? The richest white wo­men and the poorest black men. The irony of obesity is that, ac­cord­ing to con­ven­tion­al wis­dom, it’s a dis­ease for poor people in rich coun­tries. But Pew Re­search fig­ures in­dic­ate that obesity rises with in­come for black and His­pan­ic men, but it falls with in­come for black and His­pan­ic wo­men. The At­lantic

MORE THAN 3 MIL­LION U.S. HIS­PAN­ICS AF­FECTED BY THE DIA­BETES. About 3.2 mil­lion Latino adults — 13 per­cent of the over­all His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tion — are liv­ing with dia­betes, ac­cord­ing to the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment’s Of­fice of Minor­ity Health. “His­pan­ics are 1.7 times as likely have dia­betes as whites,” with Mex­ic­an-Amer­ic­ans even like­li­er to be dia­gnosed, HHS re­ports. Also, the death rate among Lati­nos from dia­betes-re­lated causes is 50 per­cent high­er than non-His­pan­ic whites. FOX News Latino

RE­SEARCH AND STUD­IES

LATI­NOS’ PROPENSITY FOR ALZHEIMER’S: LIKELY THE RES­ULT OF CHRON­IC DIS­EASES. Lati­nos com­prise about 17 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, and des­pite no ge­net­ic pre­dis­pos­i­tion to Alzheimer’s dis­ease, this demo­graph­ic is dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by it. Ac­cord­ing to the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation, by 2050, the rate of Lati­nos with Alzheimer’s is pro­jec­ted to in­crease 600 fold. Ac­cord­ing to past stud­ies, Lati­nos are 1.5 times as likely to de­vel­op the dis­ease, prob­ably more be­cause of chron­ic ill­nesses such as obesity, dia­betes, car­di­ovas­cu­lar dis­ease, hy­per­ten­sion, and stroke, not be­cause of hered­ity. Voxxi 

HOW KIDS’ BRAINS ARE AT RISK FROM A BAR­RAGE OF COM­MON CHEM­IC­ALS. A long­time study of fam­il­ies in Har­lem, N.Y., shows a great­er oc­cur­rence of asthma, obesity, and learn­ing dis­ab­il­it­ies. In 1998 re­search­ers star­ted to track 700 preg­nant wo­men from hos­pit­als in parts of New York City with high rates of pol­lut­ants. By age 3 their kids tested 6 points lower on mo­tor skills and 3 points lower on men­tal de­vel­op­ment, with signs of at­ten­tion-de­fi­cit and hy­per­activ­ity prob­lems. One re­search­er es­tim­ated that, na­tion­wide, mer­cury ex­pos­ure that af­fects  IQ can res­ult in “de­creased life­time eco­nom­ic pro­ductiv­ity val­ued at $8.7 bil­lion an­nu­ally.” This lengthy, highly in­form­at­ive art­icle by Florence Wil­li­ams was backed by the NRDC Sci­ence Cen­ter In­vest­ig­at­ive Journ­al­ism Fund. On Earth

WO­MEN MORE LIKELY TO DIE IN HOS­PIT­AL AFTER HEART AT­TACK. Young­er His­pan­ic, black, and white wo­men are more likely to die in the hos­pit­al after a heart at­tack than white men are, a study finds. Re­search­ers ex­amined data from about 207,000 Amer­ic­an adults hos­pit­al­ized for heart at­tack — in­clud­ing more than 6,500 His­pan­ic and black wo­men young­er than 65 — and found sig­ni­fic­ant ra­cial, gender, and age dis­par­it­ies. Young­er His­pan­ic, black and white wo­men were 1.5, 1.4, and 1.2 times, re­spect­ively, more likely to die in the hos­pit­al than white men. The re­search­ers do not ex­plain why the dif­fer­ences in treat­ment ex­ist but dif­fer­ences in health care ac­cess, doc­tor bi­ases and pa­tient mis­trust could be factors. Re­u­ters 

STUDY SHOWS MURKY STATE OF CHILD SUP­PORT IN U.S. Amer­ic­ans owe more than $14 bil­lion in back child-sup­port pay­ments, ac­count­ing for 38 per­cent of what should be re­ceived an­nu­ally, a U.S. Census Bur­eau study shows. Ac­cord­ing to “Cus­todi­al Moth­ers and Fath­ers and Their Child Sup­port: 2011,” few­er than 50 per­cent of cus­todi­al moth­ers are white, more than 25 per­cent are black, and 21 per­cent are His­pan­ic. Among cus­todi­al fath­ers, most are white; 16 per­cent are black; and 18 per­cent are His­pan­ic. Court­house News Ser­vice 

  • YOUNG LAT­I­NAS FACE HIGH­ER RISK OF DEATH FROM HEART AT­TACKS. His­pan­ic­ally Speak­ing News
  • AFRIC­AN-AMER­IC­AN WO­MEN LESS LIKELY TO GET HPV VAC­CINE COM­PARED WITH WHITE WO­MEN. News Fix
  • BLACKS WITH COLORECTAL CAN­CER LESS LIKELY TO SEE SPE­CIAL­ISTS. Health
  • LAND­MARK FIND­INGS SHIFTS IDEAS ON HEP­AT­IT­IS C IN AFRIC­AN AMER­IC­ANS. PR Web 
  • HIS­PAN­ICS RE­CEIVE FEW­ER SUR­GER­IES FOR VAS­CU­LAR DIS­EASE. Medi­cineN­et
  • LOW VIT­AM­IN-D LEVELS DUR­ING PREG­NANCY AS­SO­CI­ATED WITH PRE­TERM BIRTH IN NON­WHITE MOTH­ERS. E Sci­ence News
  • RA­CIAL AND ETH­NIC DIS­PAR­IT­IES EX­IST IN ER PAIN MAN­AGE­MENT FOR KIDS WITH AB­DOM­IN­AL PAIN. News­Fix
  • RA­CIAL DIF­FER­ENCES SEEN IN PAN­CRE­AT­IC-CAN­CER DEATH RATES.  Med­line Plus
  • BED SHAR­ING AMONG BLACK, HIS­PAN­IC IN­FANTS STILL IN­CREAS­ING. News­Fix
  • MINOR­IT­IES RE­CEIV­ING SUB­PAR ANXI­ETY CARE. Brown Daily Her­ald
  • BLACK STU­DENTS WITH BLACK TEACH­ERS HAVE LOWER RATES OF TEEN PREG­NANCY. The At­lantic
  • VIT­AM­IN-D DE­FI­CIENCY MIGHT BE OVER-DIA­GNOSED IN BLACKS. Med­Line Plus
  • GENE PUTS AFRIC­AN-AMER­IC­ANS AT HIGH­ER RISK FOR KID­NEY FAIL­URE. Sci­ence Daily
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