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For Immediate Release:
June 01, 2005
For more information contact:
DHS Communications
(213) 240-8144 Pager: (213) 990-7107

Over One-Half of L.A. County's Young Children are not Read to on a Daily Basis
L.A. County Parenting Practices Surveyed for the First Time by County Health Department

LOS ANGELES -- According to a report released by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, opportunities for parents to develop their young child's language development and eventual reading success are being missed. 57% of children are not read to daily by a parent or family member. The percentages are even lower among children living in poverty (64%) and near poverty (65%).

Research shows that children whose parents read to them regularly become successful readers and are better prepared for school, said Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and County Health Officer. And reading to infants and toddlers significantly contributes to the development of later literacy and language skills. Continued community efforts are needed to promote child-centered literacy programs especially among children from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Economic standing also contributed to differences in other parenting practices. For example, more than 95% of children ages two to five years ate breakfast, as reported by their parents or guardians. However, the survey found that children who reside in lower income households were less likely to have regular bedtimes and mealtimes, but more likely to eat together at least once a day. The latter finding may reflect dual income households in which both parents are employed outside the home. The survey also found that 59% of infants and one year olds watched television and 33% of two to five year olds watched three or more hours of television daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television viewing for children younger than two years old, and less than three hours per day of television viewing for children two years and over. Excessive television viewing among children can contribute to decreased physical activity, obesity and poor school performance.

For a copy of the complete study, visit: lapublichealth.org/ha.

Health survey background

The Los Angeles County Health Survey is a periodic, population-based telephone survey that collects information on socio-demographic characteristics, health status, health behaviors and access to health services among adults and children in the County. The 2002-03 survey collected information on a random sample of more than 8,000 adults and nearly 6,000 children with interviews offered in six languages.

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health and comprises more than 4,000 employees with an annual budget exceeding $600 million.