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AAP Agenda for Children Strategic Plan Poverty and Child Health

Poverty and Child Health

In response to the growing number of children living in poor and low‐income households in the United States, the AAP added “Poverty and Child Health” to the Agenda for Children in 2013.

AAP Poverty and Child Health Leadership Workgroup (PDF)

Why Focus on Poverty?

Poverty Affects Child Health

Poverty is a significant determinant of child health. Children living in poverty have worse health outcomes for infant mortality, developmental delays, asthma, ear infections, obesity, nutrition, and child abuse and neglect. Child poverty also adversely impacts health across the life course and into adulthood.

Nearly Half of All Children Live in Poor/Low‐income Households

Families in poor and low‐income households have difficulty accessing health care and meeting the basic needs that are crucial for healthy child development. In the United States in 2012:

  • 22% of all children under 18 lived in poverty (16 million children)
  • 45% of all children under 18 lived in low‐income households (32.7 million children)
Most Pediatricians Will Care for Low‐income/Poor Families
  • Economic insecurity impacts a diverse child population, including children in suburban, urban, and rural communities.
  • Since 2008, suburbs have experienced the largest and fastest increase of poor populations.

How Can the AAP Help Address Poverty and Child Health?

The AAP Poverty and Child Health Leadership Work Group is developing a strategic plan that will help address the health effects of poverty and ensure the healthy development of all children within a medical home.

The work group will identify what works to help low‐income families, children, and the pediatricians who provide their care.

The strategic plan will focus on opportunities to do the following:

Support pediatricians to address poverty within their practices and engage parents in the effort

Translate research evidence about the impacts of poverty on child health outcomes into solutions.

Raise awareness about the impact of poverty on child health, and strategies that work to mitigate the health effects of poverty.

Develop strategies to help pediatricians identify and collaborate with community partners to help address the health impacts of poverty.

Advocate for policies at the national, state, and local levels that help lift families out of poverty and that ameliorate the impact of poverty on the health of children.

For more information, contact

In the News

James M Perrin, MD, FAAP
"How Being Poor Can Make You Sick"
May 2014, The Atlantic    

Pediatricians can connect economically insecure families to community resources
April 1, 2014. AAP News

Andrew Racine, MD, PhD FAAP
"Child Poverty: Can Pediatricians Make a Difference?" February 14, 2014. Medscape Pediatrics.

James M Perrin, MD, FAAP
"Children in Poverty," January 15, 2014. New York Times.

Katie Plax, MD, FAAP
A living wage to improve child health and well-being” January 3, 2014. St Louis-Dispatch

Benjamin Gitterman, MD FAAP
The effect of poverty on children’s health” November 10, 2013. Washington Post

AAP Resources


The AAP advocates for federal and state policies that support low income and poor children.

The AAP Division of State Government Affairs provides resources to support AAP chapters and members advocating on behalf of children and families living in poverty.


Many AAP programs focus on the health of low-income children.

  • The CATCH and Healthy Tomorrows programs distribute grants for projects that promote community partnerships to improve access to health care, community based health care, preventive health care, and service coordination.
  • The National Center for Medical Home Implementation provides resources and tools to ensure all children have access to a medical home.
  • The AAP Head Start National Center on Health provides education, training and technical assistance to the Head Start community.

The AAP develops policy statements and other publications about the impact of poverty on child health. Current policy includes:


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