The AAP provides a series of messages and communications tips for pediatricians to use when talking about poverty and child health with other health care providers, legislators, and other audiences. These messages were developed with Burness, a firm specializing in health communications.
Download the Poverty and Child Health Messaging Guide, with key messages and tips.
Key Messages and Tips for Pediatricians
Tip 1: Emphasize the connection between poverty and child health.
Focus on poverty as a key determinant of child health. As an expert in child health, pediatricians have the opportunity to talk about the influence of poverty on child health, development and long-term outcomes.
- Poverty is a strong risk factor for poor health. Child poverty is linked to higher rates of asthma and obesity, poor language development, increased infant mortality and an increased risk of injuries.
- A growing body of research links child poverty with toxic stress that can alter gene expression and brain function and contributes to chronic cardiovascular, immune, and psychiatric disorders, as well as behavioral difficulties.
Tip 2: Make the economic case and explain the benefits to society.
Talk about the ways that addressing child poverty can improve the life course trajectory for a child, and benefit society. Highlight policies and programs that have demonstrated measurable, proven benefits to society, including economic benefits.
- Childhood poverty is associated with lifelong hardship and linked to multiple health problems that can be costly to treat and that can limit economic potential. Research now shows us that giving children a healthy start pays off in health and well-being. This is not just important for children and their families, but for society as a whole.
- Poverty costs the U.S. economy more than $500 billion a year in low productivity and poor health, and puts one at risk for crime and incarceration. That is about 4 percent of the economy. It doesn’t have to be this way.
- To be healthy, children need financially secure parents. We need to invest further, and sustain our investments, in programs we know work to help parents and lift families out of poverty.
Pediatricians Talk About Poverty and Child Health
A doctor's call for action on childhood poverty
Philadelphia Inquirer, Op-Ed by Daniel R. Taylor- April 25, 2016
Ricks: Poverty harming Mississippi children's health
The Clarion-Ledger, Op-Ed by Dr. Barbara Ricks - March 13, 2016
Getting all Colorado kids insured — and healthy
Denver Post, Op-Ed by Dr. Steve Federico - March 12, 2016
New approach needed as doctors deal with poverty
Courier-Journal, Op-ed by Dr. Amber L. Pendleton - March 10, 2016
The Child Poverty Prescription
U.S. News & World Report, Op-Ed by Dr. Benard Dreyer - March 9, 2016
Guest commentary: Cannot continue to ignore plight of homeless families
Contra-Costa Times, Op-Ed by Dr. Christine Ma - March 8, 2016
Tell Your Story
Storytelling is a very effective tool for bringing an issue to life and moving people to action. By telling stories, you can also help audiences understand the diverse face of poverty, and the impact it has on communities across the country.
The AAP is collecting brief success stories from AAP members. Tell us how you have worked with a family to address a poverty-related issue in your community. These stories may be highlighted in AAP publications, in the press and on social media.
If you’d like to share your story, please complete the submission form.