AAP Recommends Pediatricians Screen for Poverty

Posted on: March 10, 2016

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new policy statement, “Poverty and Child Health in the United States,” on March 9th that recommends pediatricians screen for poverty at all well-child visits. These screenings include asking about basic needs, such as food and housing, and making appropriate referrals when needed. The policy statement also recommends pediatricians help patients and their families build resilience to the negative effects of poverty by identifying and supporting protective factors within families.

Through the work done and research used by ICAAP through the Promoting Resiliency of Trauma-Exposed Communities Together (PROTECT) initiative, we know that poverty is the number one indicator of trauma. Furthermore, we know that repeated exposure to trauma, or exposure over a long period of time, may lead to toxic stress, which negatively affects a child’s development by altering brain function and genetic expression. These factors contribute to chronic cardiovascular, immune, and psychiatric disorders, as well as behavioral difficulties.

By implementing this new policy, pediatricians function as the first step to mitigating the effects of poverty, including hunger issues, housing issues, toxic stress, and other health-related issues.

To learn more about PROTECT, contact Cherie Estrada.