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Children's Environmental Health


Tracking Children's Environmental Health

Tracking Asthma

The Tracking Network includes data on asthma hospital stays and asthma prevalence which is the number of people diagnosed with and living with asthma. These data are useful in providing estimates about the geographic distribution and effects of asthma on children. These estimates can be used to plan and evaluate asthma interventions.

The hospital admissions data available on the Tracking Network present state hospital discharge data which reflects more severe cases of asthma. Persons who have to stay in the hospital because of asthma usually have more severe attacks than persons with asthma symptoms who are not hospitalized. The Tracking Network is using hospital admission dates while other public health programs use the hospital discharge dates to count asthma cases. This may cause a difference in asthma rates between the Tracking Network and other public health Web sites. Read more about how CDC tracks Asthma.

Tracking Cancer

The Tracking Network provides data on the most common childhood cancers which are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and brain and other nervous system cancers. Through the Tracking Network childhood cancer incidence data is easier to access and use. These data are collected by state health departments, which are funded by the National Program of Cancer Registries and the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program. Cancer mortality data are published by the National Center for Health Statistics. Providing cancer incidence data on the Tracking Network allows for a better understanding of spatial and temporal patterns of selected cancers that may be related to environmental exposures.

It is not easy to identify environmental factors related to childhood cancer because environmental exposures to the parent, the child in the womb, or the child after birth may play a role. Childhood cancers, like adult cancers, may be the result of a mix of genetic, environmental, and behavioral causes, not just one factor by itself. For more information on how CDC tracks Childhood Cancer.

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Tracking Childhood Lead Poisoning

The Tracking Network uses state and local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs to obtain state and local data about childhood blood-lead levels. When a child is tested for lead poisoning, state and local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs collect information about the child, including the child's test results and any potential sources of lead in the child's environment. These programs share some of this information with CDC to compile in a national database. CDC's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program provides technical and financial assistance to state and local programs and provides national guidance and policy for the prevention and treatment of childhood lead poisoning.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) is not currently used to track childhood lead poisoning on the Tracking Network. CDC uses the survey to monitor blood lead levels of people in the United States (U.S.). NHANES is a series of surveys designed and conducted by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics to collect data on the health and nutritional status of people in the U.S. NHANES provides national information which helps them compare estimates and monitor trends. The survey cannot determine local differences in the risk for high blood lead levels but it does provide the overall blood-lead levels for the U.S. population and subpopulations, including children. These data provide a baseline U.S. blood-lead level that can be compared to state, county, or individual blood-lead level. Results from the surveys can be found in the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, which is an ongoing review of U.S. exposure to environmental chemicals.

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Tracking Developmental Disabilities

No nation-wide system actively tracks all developmental disabilities. The Environmental Public Health Tracking Network is currently using two developmental disabilities data sources:

  • CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, and
  • Department of Education's Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Tracking Network currently includes data for seven developmental disabilities. Read more about these developmental disabilities.

Data on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental disabilities comes from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Data on the number of students receiving special education services under specific disability categories are reported by the Department of Education (ED) as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These two sources provide different kinds of data. The ADDM Network provides the number of existing cases of ASDs in a defined population. The IDEA data provides information on children receiving services but does not take into account the general population or all children with disabilities.

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Tracking Socioeconomic Conditions

The Tracking Network uses U.S. Census Bureau databases to get state and local data about population characteristics. This information helps CDC understand how environmental exposures affect people, including children, across United States. These data can also help track the impact of public health policies aimed at reducing the environmental burden on children. Find out more on how CDC tracks population characteristics and the environment.

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