Identifying Parents With Low Health Literacy Improves Children’s Health

Elk Grove Village, IL–(ENEWSPF)–June 9, 2016.   As part of well child visits, pediatricians may also want to assess parents’ health literacy levels. The study, “Parent Health Literacy, Depression, and Risk for PediatricInjury,” appearing in the July 2016 issue of Pediatrics (published online June 7) looked at a cross-sectional group of 17,845 English- and Spanish-speaking parents of children younger than age 7.

Researchers found that nearly 36 percent of the caregivers had below basic or basic health literacy. Low health literacy – defined as a limited capacity to “obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make important health decisions” – has an impact on children’s health. For these parents, it can be difficult to understand immunization schedules, growth charts or medical forms, or to follow written instructions and recommendations for their children’s preventive health care. The authors found that these parents may have an increased risk of maternal depression, a known detriment to children’s health. Further, in this study, children of parents with low health literacy often watched more than the recommended two hours of TV per day and were more likely to encounter situations dangerous to overall child health such as a lack of working smoke detectors at home or caregivers lacking knowledge in first aid treatments related to choking and burns.

The authors conclude well child visits offer pediatricians a unique opportunity to assess and educate parents with low health literacy to improve safety in a child’s home environment.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit




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