Health and Social Characteristics and Children's Cognitive Functioning: Results from a National Cohort

Kramer, Rachel A.; Allen, LaRue; Gergen, Peter J.
March 1995
American Journal of Public Health;Mar1995, Vol. 85 Issue 3, p312
Academic Journal
Objectives. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between cognitive functioning in children and sociodemographic, family, and health characteristics. Methods. Data from phase 1 of the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were used to evaluate performance on standardized cognitive tests in a representative sample of 2531 children 6 to 16 years of age. Multivariate analyses were used to assess independent associations between covariates and test performance. Results. Lower income, minority status, and lower education of an adult reference person (one for the persons in the household who owned or rented the home) were independently associated with poorer performance on all cognitive subtests. To a lesser degree, general health status, history of birth complications, and sex also were independent predictors of performance for some of the subtests. Conclusions. These findings illustrate disparities in cognitive functioning across sociodemographic and health characteristic of children in the US population. They suggest the need for public health policies to take a multifaceted approach to optimizing childhood environments in order to overcome the effects of socioeconomic and minority status.


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