Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Examining Health Disparities Faced by Migrant Worker Children

Based on nine months of research Sarah Horton, PhD (Dept of Anthropology, UCD) conducted in a farmworking community in California’s Central Valley, Dr Horton produced an article focusing on the unique health disparities faced by migrant farmworker children using oral disease – an understudied topic – as a lens through which to understand the physiological and social effects of early social disadvantage. The article examines the effects of the epidemic of early childhood caries among Mexican American farmworker children on both their physical development and their social mobility. Horton and Barker examine the role of dietary and environmental factors in contributing to what they call “stigmatized biologies,” and that of market-based dental public health insurance systems in cementing their enduring effects.

Because children’s severe early childhood caries contributes to lasting dental problems and even alters the shape of the oral cavity, the authors show that poor oral health can lead to lasting social stigma. The authors argue that Mexican American farmworker children’s poor oral health affects also their prospects for the future; as young adults, their social mobility may be precluded by their visible bodily markings.

For more information on Oral Health in Colorado, check out the State's Oral Health Program Page, subscribe to the Colorado Oral Health Collaborative's email group, and also check out the Quality and Health Improvement Units' Page with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

Posted for Lisa J. Waugh, RN, PhD, Health Policy Specialist, Quality and Health Improvement Unit, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing -  

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