Health disparities in low-income families with infants and toddlers: needs and challenges related to disability.

This study examines disparities in health status, health care utilization, insurance coverage and satisfaction in US low-income parents of infants and toddlers with disabilities compared to low-income parents of children without disabilities. The Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project is a longitudinal study involving 2087 families in 17 communities across the United States. Families completed interviews at enrollment and at 7, 16, and 28 months after enrollment. Descriptive analyses were conducted to characterize children’s status in terms of health, health care use, and insurance coverage. Children with disabilities were more likely to experience poor health and to use more health care services. Parents of children with disabilities were more likely to report that medical care was inadequate. Hispanic children were less likely to experience excellent health. Hispanic parents were less likely to have health insurance or to report that their medical care was adequate. Low-income parents of young children with disabilities perceived their children as less healthy, more vulnerable and needing more health services. This study demonstrates the importance of providing accessible, culturally-competent services to this vulnerable population.