The effects of poverty can start before babies are born and pile up throughout a person’s adult life. If a child’s life is filled with stress, unstable nutrition, toxic environments, and health-care gaps, then they will not be able to catch up with their health. This is why there is a strong link that associates declining health and poverty. With that in mind, there are ways for people to improve their health, even if they are not in the best of situations.
According to Dr. James Duffee, a community pediatrician in Springfield, Ohio, for more than 20 years, “poverty is a negative, independent factor that influences lifelong health,” he states. “Through the science of toxic stress, we understand that early childhood adversity and poverty is a factor that affects not only brain architecture and [neurologic and endocrine] function, but affects the probability of lifelong illness, including cardiac disease and diabetes.”
How Can Poverty Affect a Person’s Health?
There are many ways that poverty can influence a person’s health. With poverty in the picture, many people cannot afford good homes and healthcare. The basic necessities to survive become the main priority and most of the time, health is deprioritized. In many ways, putting food on the table and the struggles that follow could lead to stress, which results in declining health. There are many people who suffer in different ways, especially if they cannot afford to live in a safe environment. In this case, there are many ways that poverty negatively influences a person’s health, even in ways that are not noticeable.
Injuries and Low Income are Related
People find it surprising that there is an increase in accidents that take place to children who live in poverty. But, it is really not that hard to comprehend. Children who live in poverty reside in more dangerous settings and environments. The families of the children are stressed out and are often found working multiple jobs at the same time. With these families, they often live in substandard housing. The neighborhoods are dangerous and crime is more likely to happen in this area. This does not only affect children, almost all who are going through poverty face the same risk. The more dangerous the neighborhood means the more likely a crime will take place.
Putting Food on the Table
The paradox of this day and age is that there is increased hunger and more obesity in the world. Those who live in poverty suffer from both problems. Unfortunately, the cheapest food that is found in supermarkets are typically empty calories; they provide high-calorie and high-fat food as the cheapest alternative. Most people who live in poverty face the issue of “food deserts”. This means that they do not have access to fresh produce, but they have easy access to fast food. With this in mind, people will eat what they can get and eat a lot of it, disregarding its nutritional effects. Other times, many parents give up their meals to feed their children.
Poverty Can Influence Emotional Health
Emotional health is another factor that needs to be taken under consideration. Almost fifty percent of children who live in poverty have mothers with symptoms of depression. Since raising a family in poverty can be very stressful, most mothers develop depression under these circumstances. The unfortunate truth is that mothers who are depressed deal with their children differently. Depressed mothers perform interactions that lack stimulation and attachment with their children, which affects their children for a long time. Adversity can cause children to lash out in anger or become depressed. They can deal with it through outward behavior such as anger. Another way is that they can internalize their reaction and become depressed.
It is very common for people in poverty to use lead-contaminated water in their daily activities. The issue may not be as widespread as it was before, but the threat is still there. Due to the lack of infrastructure in cities, lead is becoming an increased concern. The more the infrastructure falls apart and deteriorates, the more lead is released into the older pipes. There is no such thing as safe exposure to lead. Any exposure to lead can cause long-term, irreparable damage to a person’s health. It is not something that happens all the time, but it happens more often than not.
Dental and Vision Impairs
Early oral-health promotion is an increasingly popular phenomenon that most pediatricians are encouraging. Many pediatricians try to educate mothers and protect children from any long-term oral-health issues. This includes teaching mothers not to prop bottles of milk when they are feeding their children to prevent rotting teeth. Also, many pediatricians apply fluoride varnish to patients, which reduces childhood dental cavities. Another aspect that pediatricians tackle is vision. Many kids break their glasses and they cannot afford to replace them. So, they walk around with not-so-great vision and they cannot see properly. This will definitely affect their educational and academic performance.
Poverty Can Affect Maternal Health Too
In order to tackle the health-care gap, then you should start at the beginning of a life cycle. To prevent long-term health issues, then you should start with prenatal care. One of the government programs that assist in prenatal care is The Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act also provides services to women from low-income families during the first few months of an infant’s life. This will help educate new parents and raise awareness of children’s health and nutritional needs. However, maternal health is essential to maintain, so that it will not affect the child to come.
Poverty Affects Your Health and Health Affects The Possibility of a Job
As an example, people in poverty do not have adequate dental coverage. If a person does not receive proper health care, then it would be hard for them to get a job. The link between poverty and health is a two-way street. Furthermore, an increase in a person’s income could lead to an improvement in a person’s health. There are many mental-health improvements that follow income increases. Additionally, there are many people with improved blood pressure, due to an influx of income. This means that alleviating poverty can improve a person’s health and a person in poverty can result in poor health. The relationship between poverty and health goes hand in hand, as a two-way relationship.
Conclusion: Programs That Could Help Families Get Through This
If government programs did not exist, as a ratio, one in three children would live in poverty. With government programs, one out of five children lives in poverty. The odds might not be much, in terms of statistics, but the impact is powerful. These government programs really keep children out of poverty. However, the main issue is the need for enhancing and helping the children further, rather than trying to only keep them off the streets. There are many government programs that are trying to help children further, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or food stamps), WIC and school-lunch programs and certain tax credits that are set permanently. There is help on the way for every person who needs it; just keep going and you will get through this.