Approximately 1 million infants and toddlers live in rurali areas in the United States. While some rural communities offer certain protective factors that support positive health and development, many children in rural areas are more likely to face a unique combination of challenges that impact their health and development—for instance, fewer health care providers, barriers to accessing care, and higher rates of poverty.1 Understanding the unique opportunities and challenges that very young children and their families living in rural areas encounter is an important step for any policymaker working to improve outcomes for all children in their state.
While many public reports provide indicator data on rural health care access at the national level, this brief uses data from the State of Babies Yearbook: 2020ii to examine state-level differences in how infants and toddlers living in rural areas are faring. Equipped with these data, state policymakers can explore strategies to support the needs of very young children and their families.
Key findings include the following:
Key health outcomes for infants and toddlers in rural areas:
At the conclusion of this brief, we provide a few recommendations for policymakers to ensure equitable health care access for infants and toddlers living in rural areas, including the following:
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