Massachusetts Has Healthiest Children in United States

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Children |

For the fifth consecutive year, a national report is highlighting key data that shows infants and toddlers face increasing challenges related to income inequality, housing, child care, physical health and mental health depending on where they live in the United States.

The State of Babies Yearbook: 2003, released by the nonpartisan research organization Zero to Three, details areas where each state performed better or worse than national averages.

The report ranks states based on more than 60 indicators across three policy framework domains — Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning Experiences — and then groups states into one of four categories.

Indicators on the well-being of babies and their families include: prenatal care received, maternal mental health, preterm births, received recommended vaccines, Medicaid plan coverage, food security, housing availability, neighborhood safety, economic security, preventive medical/dental care, and educational resources.

Twelve states are in the highest category overall — “working effectively” —  including: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The next category — “improving outcomes” — also includes 12 states: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin.

Thirteen states are in the second-to-last category — “reaching forward” — including: Illinois, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The last category — “getting started” — has 13 states as well, including: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.

Other key findings from the State of Babies Yearbook:

• The United States is home to 11 million babies who comprise 3.4 percent of the nation’s population, approximately 900,000 fewer babies than 5 years ago.

• 52% of America’s babies are of color – making babies more diverse than at any other point in our nation’s history.

• Two million infants and toddlers in this country are living in poverty and 38.9% of babies live in low income or impoverished households.

• 14.2% of households with infants and toddlers are food insecure.

• 15.2% of infants and toddlers live in crowded housing.

• 10.1% of babies are born preterm, while the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 5.4.

• 25.8% of babies and toddlers have lived through at least one adverse childhood experience, leaving them vulnerable to physical or mental health conditions.

The Yearbook also highlights five public policy areas where, if bold action is taken, outcomes can improve for babies across America. These policy areas are: The Crisis in Maternal and Infant Health; Seizing the Opportunity to Promote Positive Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health; A Commitment to Early Care and Education as a Public Good; The Hidden Developmental Threat of Unstable Housing; and The Economic Insecurity That Engulfs Many Babies.

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