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Child Health - Statistics in Niagara

The first five years of a child's life are most important. They are the foundation that shapes children's health, social-emotional well-being, 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 well-being of young childrenTop of Page

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

  • Physical Health and Well-Being
  • 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 notable increase in vulnerability is in the Physical Health and Well-Being domain, where vulnerability increased in 2018 when compared to 2015. Furthermore, vulnerability for this domain in 2018 was 18.9 per cent which is also higher than Ontario (16.3 per cent). The Physical Health and Well-Being domain also has three sub-domains and two show a higher percentage of children not meeting expectations compared to the provincial average.

Vulnerability in the Emotional Maturity domain saw steady and significant increases between 2008 and 2015, but in 2018, vulnerability was 13.4 per cent, which is a decrease compared to 2015. However, this is not a significant decrease so the trend in this domain continues to be an area of concern. Vulnerability in this domain continues to remain significantly higher compared to Ontario (11.1 per cent). The Emotional Maturity domain also has four sub-domains and three show a higher percentage of children not meeting expectations compared to the provincial average.

Vulnerability in the Social Competence domain also continues to be an area of concern as 2018 data reveals that vulnerability in this domain was 11.7 per cent which is higher compared to Ontario (9.9 per cent).

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

Source: Early Development Instrument, Niagara Region, 2008-2018
Note: data is collected from publicly funded school boards only (English Public, English Catholic, French Public, French Catholic). Children who have identified/diagnosed special needs are not included in the data used for this analysis.


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.

In Niagara, dental screenings are conducted each year for students in junior kindergarten and all the way to grade 8. Over the last decade, the proportion of teeth that have decayed, went missing or filled has been increasing although that proportion has started to slightly decrease after the 2015-16 school year.

However, these decreases are not the same as results differ among grade levels. Since the 2015-16 school year, students in grade 2 still have a similar proportion of decayed, missing or filled teeth in 2018-19 while other grades have seen change over time. For example, the proportion of teeth that have decayed, went missing or filled for grade 8 students in 2015-16 was 33.5 per cent and has decreased to 28.8 per cent in 2018-19.

Active tooth decay is also an important public health issue that needs to be understood. In 2018-19, data suggests that kindergarten (12.6 per cent) and grade 2 (12.2 per cent) students are among some of the more vulnerable groups for active tooth decay as they have some of the highest proportions compared to other grade levels. The proportion of active tooth decay for all grades overall has been slightly decreasing each year in Niagara.

Per cent 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) [2013-2019]. Date extracted: December 2020

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

Source: Oral Health Information Support System (OHISS) [2013-2019]. Date extracted: December 2020

Sources

  • Oral Health Information Support System (OHISS), 2013-2019
  • Early Development Instrument, Niagara Region, 2008-2018
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