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National Survey of Early Childhood Health

Nearly every child in the United States under the age of 3 receives some well-child care, and pediatricians are the primary health care providers for this age group. The doctor's office may be the only place where essentially all U.S. infants and toddlers have contact with professionals trained in child health and development. But do the process, content and quality of well-child visits meet the needs of parents?

The National Survey of Early Childhood Health (NSECH) was conducted to address those questions. While there is an abundance of information about pediatricians' views on this topic, very little information has been previously collected from parents' perspective.

Parents of children ages 4 to 35 months old were surveyed in 2000 about their opinion on well-child visits and health supervision. These nationally representative data gathered on more than 2,000 children provide insight into the content and quality of well-child visits as well as information on parenting practices such as reading together that can affect the development of children. The NSECH also supplies national data on which health and development issues parents want to address in well-child visits to help them raise their child in a healthy environment.

The NSECH represents a unique multidisciplinary and multi-institution partnership. The survey was developed by the AAP and the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities with primary funding from the Gerber Foundation. Additional financial support was provided by the AAP Friends of Children Fund, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau in the Health Resources and Services Administration through their funding of the National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy at UCLA, and The Commonwealth Fund. Other collaborators included researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI).

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