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Born Healthy

The path to prosperity begins at birth. Children must be born into safe homes with families that are socially, emotionally and financially prepared to care for them.

Parents know that keeping a child safe and healthy is no small task, and doing so begins well before birth. A child’s healthy beginning depends on quality prenatal care. It continues after birth with pediatric care and a safe and healthy home environment with families that are prepared to support young children. Keeping our youngest children healthy is particularly important for the economic stability of lower-income families.

Preterm and low-weight births increase a child’s risk of mortality and later health and developmental problems. Children who weigh below 5.5 pounds at birth are considered to have a low birth weight. Children born at moderately low birth weight (3.3 to 5.5 pounds) are more likely than normal birth weight children to have special healthcare needs, including increased need for medication, above-average use of health services and limitations on activity. Very low birth weight babies (less than 3.3 pounds) are at increased risk for chronic conditions such as respiratory problems, poor postnatal growth, cerebral palsy and infections. These conditions can increase the need for special education and services.

Prenatal care received during the first trimester helps to promote healthy pregnancies. Care to pregnant women includes screening and management of a woman’s risk factors and health conditions, as well as education and counseling on healthy behaviors during and after pregnancy.

A parent’s level of educational attainment is an important indicator of present and future family well-being. Maternal education has been directly associated with children’s cognitive development, school achievement and grade retention. Research suggests social disadvantages associated with low educational attainment contribute to increased negative outcomes.

Teen pregnancy is associated with a range of adverse outcomes for teenage mothers and their children. These outcomes include lack of early and adequate prenatal care, an increased chance having a low-weight birth, increased chance of multiple births as a teen and higher risk of health problems for both mother and child. Teens who have a baby are also less likely to finish high school and are more likely to live below the poverty thresholds.