Report On Baby Development Says Wyoming Needs Improvement

Mar 12, 2019

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A report focusing on the overall health of children from newborn to age three says Wyoming has some room to improve.

The State of Babies Yearbook authored by a childhood advocacy group called Zero to Three identified three categories to judge each state's picture of health for the youngest residents. Wyoming scored on the bottom tier in two out of three categories and in the lowest tier overall.

Patricia Cole, senior policy director at Zero to Three, said the report should serve as a roadmap for policymakers and parents to see where they can make progress.

"This is really a report to raise awareness and hopefully be a wake-up call that there are areas that need attention. They need attention right now," Cole said.

Cole said Wyoming does have strong outcomes in infant mortality and prenatal care. One area the state could progress in is language development for children.

"Only a little more than a fourth of Wyoming's parents read to their babies every day," she said. "So those are things we can learn. That is something parents and providers of early childhood services could really support and promote better."

Cole said brain development from age zero to three affects children throughout their lives. Children may be able to progress or catch up, but the development during the first three years is key.

"You really want to promote optimal development for children to reach their potential, Cole said. "[The report] is saying that there are a lot of factors at play that place that development more at risk, and we need to do everything that we can to make sure babies stay on track."