Child Health - Statistics in Niagara

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 200 million, or one in three children, do not achieve their full developmental potential. This has major implications for their health throughout life. As a result, the early childhood years are a period of great opportunity.

The first five years of a child's life are most important. They are the foundation that shapes children's health, social-emotional wellbeing, growth, development and learning achievements at school, in the family and in the community.

Although the first five years are particularly important, the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child's brain. Early experiences provide the base for the brain's organizational development and functioning, and has a direct impact on how children develop learning skills and social and emotional abilities.

Understanding the stages of child development helps parents know what to expect and how to best support the child. It also helps in development of programs for children as they continue to grow and prosper.

This section contains data for Niagara related to early child health and development.

Developmental Health and Wellbeing of Young ChildrenTop of Page

The Early Development Instrument is a tool that measures the developmental health and wellbeing of kindergarten children in five domains of development:

  • Physical Health and Wellbeing
  • Social Competence
  • Emotional Maturity
  • Language and Cognitive Development
  • Communication and General Knowledge

It determines whether children are meeting the appropriate expectations that are typical of five year olds.

The most concerning increase in vulnerability is in the Emotional Maturity domain, where it has increased from 2008 to 2015, and is higher than Ontario. The Emotional Maturity domain has four sub-domains, and three show a higher percentage of children not meeting expectations.

Another significant increase occurred in the Social Competence domain, where vulnerability increased from 9.8% in 2011 to 12.4% in 2015, which is higher than Ontario. Furthermore, vulnerability is not the same across the region, and can vary based on neighbourhoods. For example, children vulnerable in the Emotional Maturity domain varies from 0 to 33% across neighbourhoods in Niagara.

Percent of kindergarten children vulnerable on 5 domains of the Early Development Instrument, by year

Source: Early Development Instrument, Niagara Region, 2015
Note: data is collected from publicly funded school boards only (English Public, English Catholic, French Public, French Catholic)

Oral HealthTop of Page

Healthy teeth, even at a very early age, is an essential part of overall health. Oral health can affect the functional, psychological and social dimensions of a child's well-being. Oral pain can have devastating effects on children, including lost sleep, poor growth and learning, and behavioural problems.

Dental decay in children is an important public health issue. A 2010 Canadian Health Measures Survey reported that 57 per cent of Canadian children six to 11 years have had a cavity. Caries rates are also increasing among children two to four years. Those with advanced forms of caries often need surgery under general anesthesia, which is the most common surgical procedure performed on preschool children.

In Niagara, dental screening is conducted from junior / senior kindergarten all the way to grade 8 students each year. From 2011 to 2017, the proportion of teeth that have decay, are missing, or filled has been increasing.

In the 2011-12 school year, 33 per cent of all students reported having at least one tooth that has decay, is missing, or filled, compared to 40 per cent in the 2016-17 school year. The distribution is not the same, with grade 2 and 4 kids experiencing higher proportions of decay, missing or filled teeth than other grades.

When looking at active decay, which is more severe, junior / senior kindergarten and grade 2 children seem more vulnerable, likely to lack of early identification. Although active decay did increase slightly, the rates have been decreasing overall.

Percent of children who have at least one tooth that has decay, is missing, or filled, by year and grade

Source: Oral Health Information Support System (OHISS) [2011-2018]. Date extracted: July 1, 2018

Percent of children in Niagara who have active decay, by year and grade

Source: Oral Health Information Support System (OHISS) [2011-2018]. Date extracted: July 1, 2018

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