Note: In 2006 the CDP merged with a strategic partner; this page is kept for historical purposes only.
Education and Health Literacy. A June 2004 report by the US Census
Bureau revealed that for the second year in a row Texas had the lowest
school-graduation rate in the country. In Houston only 55% of young
Latinas graduated from high school with pregnancy being a primary reason
to drop-out; the drop-out rate in some schools is higher. We served two
areas of Houston, in Spring Branch 15% of children were born to teenage
mothers and 43% of mothers did not have a high school diploma; those
numbers were 19% and 60% respectively for the East End. This is
symptomatic of a greater problem: ≈at the time, 48% of Americans struggled with low
health literacy costing the health care system up to $73 billion in
added expenses per year (American Medical Association, 2003 report).
Neonatal Healthcare Costs: The rate of premature births jumped 13%
since 1992 (29% since 1981!) In Texas, the increase was 21% since 1992.
The tremendous costs of prematurity are exemplified by single
statistic: Low birth-weight accounts for 10% of all health care costs
for children (March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, Agency for Healthcare
Research & Quality, 2000 report.)
Other Healthcare Costs and Long-Term Breastfeeding: In Texas more than
28% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are obese, putting them
at-risk for severe problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Nevertheless, babies who are breastfed are 30% less-likely to become
obese later in life, prompting the CDC to make long-term breastfeeding
one of the four recommendations to address childhood obesity. Similarly
compelling data exists for type-I (insulin-dependent) diabetes,
digestive and respiratory problems.
Early Brain Development and Mental Health: Some of the most marking and
irreversible abuse and neglect takes place during the first few months
of life: The baby's brain, particularly the frontal lobes, continues
developing at the same intense prenatal rate until the ninth month after
birth. This has profound ramifications for the development of the
cognitive and emotive capacities of the child during adolescence and
adulthood. Studies have shown the striking relationship between
separation of mother and child and lack of skin-to-skin contact (and
breastfeeding) to later levels of depression, suicide and violence,
particularly sexual violence
(Prescott, J.W. (1996) The Origins of Human
Love and Violence. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal. 10(3):143-188 ).
Changing Demographics: Between 1990 and 2000 Houston's general
population increased by 19.8% but the Latino population grew by 62.2%.
The Harris County Hospital District projects a 92% increase in patients
by the year 2015. Uninsured patients served will increase from 23% to
43%, the Latino population from 23% to 48% of HCHD patients (US Census
Bureau, 2000 and HCHD Data, 2004.)