Nancy Landale (Department of Sociology and Crime. Law and Justice, Pennsylvania State University)
04/02/2012, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.
Building on an emerging scientific consensus that the concept of child health should encompass a wide spectrum of chronic conditions, functional abilities, and developmental domains, we use latent class analysis to delineate the multidimensional health statuses that characterize preschool children’s health. This new approach to measuring children’s health provides the foundation for an analysis of racial/ethnic differences in early health that focuses on the rapidly growing Mexican-origin child population. We find that by age four Mexican-origin children are similar to non-Hispanic white children on physical dimensions of health, but they have relatively low cognitive achievement and a cluster of related developmental problems. Their lower cognitive achievement reflects multiple social disadvantages that include limited exposure to English, low maternal education, poverty, and comparatively little contact with formal childcare settings. This cognitive skill disadvantage and associated developmental problems set the stage for enduring academic difficulties and reduced potential for later health and well-being.