WASHINGTON - Hispanic children are less likely than others to
have health insurance or recommended vaccinations, disparities that a
government study says will be magnified in the coming years by the nation's
By the year 2020, nearly one in four American children will
be Hispanic, up from fewer than one in five today.
The data in the government report show that the rising number
of Hispanic children would help lower the rate of smoking among teens.
However, teen-pregnancy rates would rise and the percentage of students
completing high school would fall without changes occurring, said Dr. Duane
Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development, one of several federal agencies that contributed to the report.
The report also found that Hispanic children are more likely
to live in poverty and to be overweight.
Improvements have been made in many categories, such as the
percentage of Hispanic children considered to be in very good or excellent
health. The overall rate has improved for all races but especially for
blacks and Hispanics.
Still, a disparity continues. The percentage of children 5-17
with good or excellent health stands at 87 percent for whites. For blacks,
it's 74 percent and for Hispanics, 72 percent.
Overall, the general trend within 25 categories is good.
Children are less likely to engage in violent crime or be a victim of
violent crime than they were a decade ago. Girls are less likely to become
Among the report's findings:
● Hispanic adults 18-24 were less likely than other
adults to have a high-school diploma. The breakdown was 91.2 percent for
non-Hispanic whites, 85 percent for blacks, and 69.2 percent for Hispanics.
● Nearly 25 percent of Hispanic children 12-18 were
overweight, compared with 12.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 21.8
percent of blacks.
● Black children up to 17 were more likely to live in poverty
than their Hispanic or white counterparts: 10 percent for whites, 34 percent
for blacks and 30 percent for Hispanics.
● A higher percentage of black girls became unmarried mothers
by ages 17-19: 12.9 percent for blacks, 12.7 percent of Hispanics and 3.2
percent for non-Hispanic whites.
In a few categories, blacks and Hispanics fare better than
whites. Only 11.4 percent of black 12th-graders reported engaging in binge
drinking - five or more drinks in one sitting within the previous two weeks.
Twenty-six percent of Hispanic 12th graders reported binge drinking. That
number shot up to 32.5 percent for non-Hispanic whites.
Black youths also led the way when it came to cutting down on
smoking. Only 5.2 percent of black 12th-graders reported smoking cigarettes
daily in the previous 30 days. That number rose to 8.2 percent for Hispanics
and 18.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites.