The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) for infants and toddlers shape development from the start, with life-long consequences. Babies’ rapid early development makes them particularly sensitive to their social, economic and physical environments. Their earliest experiences lay the foundation for all later learning, relationships and health. If we understand the economic and social factors shaping these experiences for babies right now, we can promote policies that put them on the right course for years to come.
Our latest report, produced in partnership with Child Trends, uses State of Babies Yearbook data to cast light on the specific Social Determinants of Health for babies and their families. The resulting robust picture of economic and social resources available to the nation’s babies shows that while many young children are thriving, Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Natives babies and those in families with low income experience disparities in resources and outcomes that raise significant concerns about the near-term development and long-term health of young children. The report highlights policy solutions to help families sort through the interrelated influences in their lives, as well as achieve broad changes that address racial equity issues underlying the many disparities evident in SDOH indicators. It also helps guide state policymakers in constructing “Baby SDOH” for their states. As a nation, if we can improve the drivers of health and development at the earliest possible moment, we can improve the long-term outlook for health and well-being and prevent future problems along the way.
It is our hope that policymakers leverage this data within the context of the SDOH framework to continue making the case for policies that address the needs of infants, toddlers and their families.