Initiated by Save the Children the aim of this study is to identify indicators of children’s health in the Swedish municipalities and present it as part of the proposed municipal child index.
Requirements and principles of child health indicators are discussed, resulting in an ultimate small set of useful, available and scientifically sound indicators. Current data for all the 289 municipalities now and 10 years previously are presented for each indicator and for a joint index of child health. The implications for professionals and politicians and suggestions for further work are outlined.
Of the 22 indicators originally proposed, six remain, fulfilling the requirements that were set for quality and availability: (1) proportion of children 0–17 years hospitalised for external injuries; (2) proportion of children exposed to tobacco while fetuses; (3) proportion of children with birth weight under 2500 g; (4) proportion of children breastfed at 4 months; (5) proportion of children vaccinated against morbilli, mumps and rubella; (6) proportion of teenage girls with abortion.
Gaps in knowledge were identified especially regarding preschool children’s mental health, behaviour, wellbeing and quality of life, but for important determinants such as children’s physical environment, their nutrition, their cultural offerings and experiences.
In spite of shortcomings, on the basis of the analyses of the six indicators, for all of Sweden’s municipalities we can confirm that: children’s health is good in Sweden; there are large differences between the municipalities; there is a strong correlation between children’s health and their economic vulnerability.
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