Potsdam’s children are healthier than their peers

Potsdam. The children in the state capital are significantly healthier than their peers in the rest of the state of Brandenburg. This shows the results of the school entrance exams, which the Norwegian Office for Consumer Protection, Working Environment and Health (LAVG) has now published. At the same time, the Potsdam parents get their children vaccinated less often.

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Potsdam children have fewer diseases and disorders

The published data shows exactly how the children in Potsdam are doing shortly before they start school; The National Board of Health’s so-called school entrance test is compulsory. It is determined whether a child “is up to the demands of everyday school life, or whether illnesses or developmental delays prevent enrollment and require special support,” writes the state’s Ministry of Health. 1947 boys and girls completed the exam in Potsdam in 2020, nationally there were more than 22,000 children.

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The result of the study is unequivocal: the children in Potsdam generally have better health than most of the rest of the country. The numbers in Potsdam are below the state average for allergic diseases, which include asthma and neurodermatitis, as well as for speech and movement disorders and weight problems.

Five percent of children suffer from obesity

Concretely, this means that while 2.7 percent of children in Brandenburg suffer from asthma when they start school, it is only 1.2 percent in Potsdam. 2.7 percent of children suffer from neurodermatitis, in the country it is 6.9 percent. Movement disorders were found in nearly four percent of the Potsdam children, meaning they could not stand on one leg or hop or jump from a standing position. In the country, this value is twice as high at 8.3 percent.

Emotional or social disorders were found in 5.9 percent of school children in the city and 7 percent in the country. Almost 6 percent of the children were underweight (country: 8.4 percent), 8.4 percent were overweight (country: 11.1 percent). About 3 percent of potential first-graders in Potsdam and 5 percent of all their peers in the state suffered from obesity.

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Potsdam’s official doctor warns against hours of media consumption

There were also speech differences during the examinations. Every tenth child in Potsdam has a speech or language disorder, in Brandenburg the number is twice as high. The difference: Speech disorders include problems with language function, such as a limited vocabulary or lack of language comprehension. On the other hand, speech disorders, for example, are articulation problems that are often overcome, while language disorders can cause serious problems for academic success.

According to studies, more than 50 percent of children with speech disorders develop reading and spelling difficulties, and they often become psychologically disturbed. Potsdam doctor Kristina Böhm and her health department are responsible for the examinations. She knows the causes of such problems: “With increasing media consumption among children, we also see an increasing percentage of language and speech disorders as well as an increase in disorders in the emotional area. We need to be vigilant here and educate families about the consequences of consuming media for several hours.”

Since 2016, Kristina Böhm has led the Potsdam Health Department.

The parental home plays an important role

Potsdam’s education advisor Noosha Aubel knows the key figures for children’s health. She says: “Student health is an important educational resource. This is also suggested by empirical studies. Health and healthy upbringing – nutrition, exercise, mental health – also contribute to educational success and should therefore be promoted and supported by both parents and education systems.”

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In fact, the parental home apparently plays an important role in relation to the health of the offspring. In almost all areas examined, children of employed or well-educated parents showed better values. They show fewer abnormalities and chronic diseases, participate more often in the recommended preventive medical check-ups when they are babies and toddlers. At the same time, the social status of families in Potsdam is on average much better than in the rest of the country. The value is calculated based on the parents’ schooling. In Potsdam, more than 70 percent of families have a high social status, compared to only 50 percent nationwide.

Potsdam with worse vaccination rate

However, children in Potsdam are less often vaccinated against many diseases than first-graders in other Brandenburg regions – and here, too, it is primarily families with well- or very well-educated mothers and fathers who get their children vaccinated.

A total of 93 per cent showed complete protection against rubella, mumps and measles – the latter vaccination has been compulsory for school attendance since 2020 – 85 per cent have been vaccinated against chicken pox. Nationally, however, more than 95 percent have received the MMR vaccination, and at least 90 percent of children are protected against chickenpox.

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