The Impact of Poverty on the Health of African American Children

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Cigarette Smoke:
Research has shown that another factor affecting child health in low-income families is cigarette smoke. Factors such as low income, renting a home, a blue-collar job, and less than a high school education lead to stresses that contribute to the higher percentage of African American smokers (Siegal & Faigeles, 1996). Individuals living below the poverty level are more likely to smoke (32%) and less likely to quite smoking that those that live above the poverty level (23.8%) (Flint & Novotny, 1997). The need to work two or more jobs with several children and a parent in prison increases the stresses on a family to provide food and shelter. Children who are raised in a home in which the family members smokes, the chances the child will smoke increases. This can affect the development of a child as well as the choices the individual makes as he grows up. Smoking also leads to low birth weight and increased infant mortality which again affects the health of the child (Aber et al., 1997). Financial stresses such as low income, long-term unemployment, and poor housing conditions were factors that lead to smoking. Even though smoking is a means of stress relief, the cost of cigarettes leads to psychological and financial stress (Siahpush, 2003). Socioeconomics stress is correlated with health problems such as higher mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, low birth weight, hypertension, and diabetes (Adler & Newman, 2002). Due to stresses in the home, the health of the child may not be a priority and smoking cessations are not frequent.
The environment of a child has a major role on their health. Fifty-six percent of people that live in communities surrounded by toxic industries are colored people and th...

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