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Open Access Research article

Children's health and parental socioeconomic factors: a population-based survey in Finland

Sanna M Siponen1*, Riitta S Ahonen1, Piia H Savolainen1 and Katri P Hämeen-Anttila2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Pharmacy/Social Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland

2 Finnish Medicines Agency, Microkatu 1, Kuopio, P.O Box 55, FI-00301 Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:457  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-457

Published: 9 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Socioeconomic inequalities in health are a global problem, not only among the adult population but also among children. However, studies concerning young children especially are rare. The aim of this study was to describe the health of Finnish children under 12 years of age, and the socioeconomic factors associated with health. The socioeconomic factors were parental education level, household net income, and working status.

Methods

A population-based survey among Finnish children aged under 12 years (n = 6,000) was conducted in spring 2007. A questionnaire was sent to parents, and a response rate of 67% was achieved. Each child's health was explored by asking a parent to report the child's health status on a 5-point Likert scale, current symptoms from a symptoms list, and current disease(s) diagnosed by a physician. The final three outcome measures were poor health, the prevalences of psychosomatic symptoms, and long-term diseases. Data were analysed using Pearson's Chi-Square tests, and logistic regression analysis with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). P-values ≤0.05 were considered as statistically significant.

Results

In total, 3% of parents reported that their child's health status was poor. The prevalences of psychosomatic symptoms and long-term diseases were both 11%. The probability for poor health status was lowest among children aged 3-6 and 7-11 years, and for psychosomatic symptoms among 3-6-year-old children, whereas the odds ratios for long-term diseases was highest among children aged 7-11 years. Parental socioeconomic factors were not associated with the children's health.

Conclusions

Most of the children were reported by their parent to have good health status, and approximately one tenth had experienced some psychosomatic symptoms or long-term diseases. Our study suggests that parental socioeconomic factors are not associated with the health of children aged under 12 years in Finland.

Keywords:
child; health; socioeconomic factors; population-based study