About the Data
National Survey of Children's Health

The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) is a telephone-based survey of parents and guardians of non-institutionalized children under 18 years of age.  The purpose of the survey is to generate data about children, their families, and neighborhoods to help guide policymakers, advocates, and researchers.  Baseline estimates are used for federal and state Title V Maternal and Child Health performance measures, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau companion objectives for Healthy People 2010/2020, and data for each state’s 5-year Title V needs assessment.


  • Prevalence rate of children (1 to 17 years) who had a preventive dental visit within the past year as reported by a parent or guardian. 
  • Prevalence rate of children (1 to 17 years) who had a dental visit within the past year as reported by a parent or guardian.
  • Possible risk factors for children not having a preventive dental visit or dental visit within the past year such as age and household poverty. 

The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend at least one dental visit and one preventive dental visit each year, starting by the child’s first birthday or when the first tooth appears.

  • Identify possible factors associated with NSCH oral health measures:
    • Age of child.
    • Household poverty.
  • Measure progress toward achieving national health objectives defined through Healthy People 2010/2020 goals and objectives.
  • Prevalence of specific oral conditions such as toothache, decay/cavities, broken teeth, or bleeding gums, asked only in the 2007 to 2008 survey.
  • Prevalence of dental sealants.
  • Use of fluoride varnish.
  • Data does not describe the reason children did or did not have a yearly preventive dental visit or dental visit.  
  • The National Center for Health Statistics State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) program carried out sampling and data collection. 
    • Telephone numbers are called at random to identify households with one or more children under 18 years old. 
    • In each household, one child was randomly selected to be the subject of the interview.
  • NSCH administration, sampling, and data collection procedures.
  • Survey results are weighted to represent the population of non-institutionalized (i.e., not living in jails, prisons, mental hospitals or juvenile corrections facilities) children under 18 years old nationally and in each state. 
  • NSCH indicators, questions, and response items
  • Data files are downloadable at the CDC National Center for Health Statistics.  

NSCH survey year

U.S. completed surveys

State completed surveys

More information

2003 to 2004

102,353

1,483 to 2,241

Topics and indicators

2007 to 2008

91,642

1,725 to 1,932

New topics and indicators added

2011 to 2012

95,677

1,811 to 2,200

New topics and indicators added

  • Dental visit: The percent of children (1 to 17 years) with at least one dental visit (e.g. check-ups, x-rays or filling cavities) within the past year.
  • Preventive dental visit: The percent of children (1 to 17 years) with at least one preventive dental visit (e.g. check-ups and dental cleanings) within the past year.

Note: Additional oral health indicators found within the NSCH include ever breastfed or fed breast milk (ages under 6 years), breastfed for at least 6-months (ages under 6 years), overall condition of teeth (1 to 17 years), oral health problems (1 to 17 years), and unmet need (1 to 17 years).  These indicators are representative at the national level, but not the state level due to small sample sizes, therefore were not included on the Oral Health Topic.

Dental visit

The number of children (1 to 17 years) whose parent or guardian reported their child had a dental visit (e.g. check-ups, x-rays or filling cavities) in the past year divided by the total number of children (1 to 17 years) whose parent or guardian responded to the survey question, multiplied by 100 percent.

Preventive dental visit

The number of children (1 to 17 years) whose parent or guardian reported their child had a preventive dental visit (e.g. check-ups and dental cleanings) in the past year divided by the total number of children (1 to 17 years) whose parent or guardian responded to the survey question, multiplied by 100 percent.

Note: Methods to adjust for population characteristics were used to create representative national and state estimates.

United States and Minnesota non-institutionalized children (i.e., not living in jail, prison, or hospital setting) under 18 years of age. 

  • Self-reported by parent or guardian.
  • Cross-sectional survey design does not allow determination of cause and effect.
  • Only a little over half of Minnesota households in the survey sample participated in the survey (52 percent response rate).
  • Use caution when comparing indicators by household poverty across years.
    • The NSCH defines poverty using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines calculated from parent or guardian reported household income.  HHS Poverty Guidelines are primarily used for administrative purposes (e.g. determine eligibility for certain federal programs) and change yearly.
    • To learn more visit: How is poverty identified in a population?  On the MN Public Health Data Access portal.  
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau.The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) is a telephone survey conducted in English and Spanish every 5 years.  Survey data is available for 2003 to 2004, 2007 to 2008, and 2011 to 2012.  The NSCH provides reasonably precise estimates from a representative sample of children under 18 years of age.  A total of 95,677 parent or guardian interviews of more than 70 child health and well-being indicators were carried out between February 2011 and June 2012 using a complex survey design.

To learn more visit: About the poverty & income data on the MN Data Access portal.

Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (2011-2012).  National Survey of Children’s Health.  Collected by the Minnesota Oral Health Program.  St. Paul, Minnesota: MN Public Health Data Access portal.  [Add URL] Retrieved month, year.

National Survey of Children’s Health, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, http://www.childhealthdata.org/learn/NSCH

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/slaits/nsch.htm

Please send questions or comments to: health.oral@state.mn.us