A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Education Reforms and Students at Risk: A Review of the Current State of the Art - January 1994

Quality of Health

Poor health and untreated physical conditions may slow a child's academic progress. Recurrent illness, for example, may interfere with attentiveness and attendance, and vision or hearing problems may make class participation difficult. Chronic malnutrition may result in iron deficiency, which is correlated with fatigue and decreased attentiveness in children (Carter, 1983), and lead poisoning from exposure to household and environmental hazards is associated with learning disorders (Marlowe et al., 1982; Needleman et al., 1979).

Rural children, low-income children, and nonwhite children have less access to health care than their urban, high-income, white counterparts, although they are at higher risk for health-related problems (Aday and Andersen, 1984). For example, many researchers attribute the deadly resurgence of measles and tuberculosis among the poor to a lack of affordable, accessible health care and crowded, unsanitary housing. In addition, due to hazardous and polluted surroundings, inner-city children may be at increased risk of lead exposure (Mielke et al., 1983); homeless children in particular are at high risk for a variety of health problems, including elevated lead levels (Alperstein, Rappaport, and Flanigan, 1988) and tuberculosis (Centers for Disease Control, 1985).

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