16 April 2009

Improving Child Health Outcomes in Shelby County

For the youngest citizens in Shelby County, periodic health care can signify the distinction between a robust start and a weak beginning. This is particularly undeniable for impoverished infants and toddlers due to their elevated risk of exposure to situational toxins and insubstantial accommodations and diet. The first years of life present an extraordinary occasion to advance the brain development of young children, and repress and evaluate many of the physical and cognitive afflictions that our children could encounter in their lifetimes.

Fast Facts (The Urban Child Institute [TUCI], 2008):

- In Shelby County in 2006, about 1 in 2 infants was born to a mother who received inadequate prenatal care, which is associated with poor birth outcomes such as low birth weight and prematurity.

- In 2005, almost 15% of Shelby County infants were born to women who gained 50 pounds or more during pregnancy. Obesity increases the risk of adverse outcomes for babies and mothers, including neural tube defects and labor and delivery complications.

Policy Suggestions (Zero to Three, 2009):

- Extend contact with health professionals in widespread early childhood programs reaching infants and toddlers, including child care settings and foster care homes.

- Advance government contributions to children’s nutrition programs and promote greater emphasis on obesity prevention and physical exercise.

- Provide access to prenatal health services to all pregnant women.

For more information on the well-being of children in Memphis and Shelby County, visit The Urban Child Institute at http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org; and The State of Children in Memphis and Shelby County, available at http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org/DatabookProcessor.php.

The Urban Child Institute. (2009). The State of Children in Memphis and Shelby County: Data Book. Memphis, TN: The Urban Child Institute.

Zero to Three. (2009). Early Experiences Matter Policy Guide. Washington, DC: Zero to Three.

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