Resource | Report
By several measures, the U.S. is failing its mothers and young children. The United States has one of the highest infant mortality and maternal mortality rates of any wealthy country and ranks among the world’s worst performing nations on key child health metrics. In America, 1 in 12 babies are born low birthweight, 1 in 6 babies are never breastfed and 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese by their 5th birthday. Moreover, the U.S. is one of the very few countries in the world that does not mandate employers to offer paid leave for new mothers. It also has the distinction of having one of the unhealthiest diets in the world—high in sugar and saturated fats and low in fruits and vegetables—which are driving an epidemic of childhood obesity and have led experts to suggest that the current generation of children could be the first to live less healthful lives than their parents.
The picture becomes more troubling when it comes to mothers, babies and toddlers of color and those from low-income families. Poverty and food insecurity compound the problems of poor health and nutrition. A staggering 1 in 6 children in the U.S. under age 6 live in families that struggle to put enough nutritious food on the table every day. These children are less likely to get a thriving start to life because persistent food insecurity and poor nutrition put young children at risk of developmental delays and cognitive deficits. This in turn has the effect of deepening existing disparities in America and keeping families locked in a cycle of poverty and despair.
The Solutions We Support
Comprehensive health coverage for women in the first 1,000 days
When a woman doesn’t get the care she needs before, during and after pregnancy, her health and that of her baby—is put at risk.
A paid family leave
Without paid parental leave, many women in America lack the time they need to care for their babies and themselves.
Dietary guidelines for pregnant women and children under 2
Supporting healthy weight gain, teaching good eating habits and encouraging best practices on baby and toddler feeding helps build a foundation for a thriving future.
Investments in low-income babies, toddlers and their families
Nearly half of all babies and toddlers in the U.S. live in low-income households. Programs like WIC and SNAP help ensure that these children get a strong start.