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Report Shows The Lives Of Nevada's Babies Needs Improvement

Paul Goyette from Chicago, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

More than 108,000 babies up to age 3 call Nevada home. Nearly half are born to families whose income is less than $26,000 a year.  

That’s according to an organization called Zero to Three, which studies issues that impact a baby’s development. 

This group’s recent “State of Nevada’s Babies” report says, basically, the lives of Nevada’s babies are not in the best of shape. 

One of the biggest impacts on child development can be the income level of the family. The report found that 42 percent of Nevada’s babies are born to families considered low-income or in poverty.

Myra Jones-Taylor is the chief policy director for Zero to Three. She said one of the reasons Nevada has so many children born into poverty is the number of low-income jobs in the state.

“We know that Nevada ranks 32 nd in states with workers in low-wage and that has an impact on their babies. We know that you really cannot separate parents’ economic prospects from their babies,” she said.

Living in poverty or in a low-income household can have a number of negative impacts on children, she said.

For one thing, more economic stress creates more mental health stress for parents and that impacts their children’s stress.

“Parents who have high rates of material hardship experience more stress and their children exhibited more stressful behavior like crying, inconsolability, not being able to sleep, regression,” she said.

People who are low income are more likely to live in an unsafe neighborhood, Jones-Taylor said.

Right now, one in 11 Nevada babies is living in an unsafe neighborhood.

“We know that that level of stress of constantly being vigilant about your family’s safety, about children and the adults, the loved ones in your family, that has a negative effect on family stress and baby stress in particular,” she said.

It is also more common for low-income people to live with other family members in a crowded home. Jones-Taylor said parents in a crowded home are less likely to give attention to infants and toddlers and more likely to use punitive discipline.

“This is not because they’re bad parents,” she said, “This is because there are so many stress factors in the home that are concerning for parents and for children’s well-being.”

The coronavirus pandemic has made the problem of crowded housing worse.

There are some areas where Nevada scored above the national average, including well-checks for babies, talking and singing to babies, and family resiliency.

Jones-Taylor said the area of family resiliency is something the state should be proud of. It refers to how capable a family feels it is at handling trouble and keeping hopeful during difficult times.

“Generally, it seems that families in Nevada have a real can-do attitude that provides an optimistic environment for children and babies,” she said.

While there were some positive points in the report, Jones-Taylor said Nevada needs to do more to address the 60 different indicators covered in the report.

“Overall, there is a lot of room for improvement in the state of Nevada for your babies,” she said.

She said the state needs to look at what policies it could implement to address some of the barriers to a family’s well-being.


Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer, Zero to Three

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Kristen Kidman is the senior producer at KNPR’s State of Nevada and is proud to be from Las Vegas.