Nearly 40 percent of all black kindergartners are overweight or obese, and nearly 40 percent of all Hispanic kindergartners in Connecticut are, too. A new policy brief by the Child Health and Development Institute says the best way to fight numbers like these is to “require action in a child’s earliest years — from birth to 2.” The numbers also indicate that 25 percent of all white kindergartners are overweight or obese also. “The numbers are staggering, and the health implications are so big,” said Judith Meyers, president and CEO of the Farmington-based CHDI, whose brief is based, in part, on research by UConn’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. “Connecticut’s rates [of childhood obesity] are among the highest in the country,” she said.
In a town somewhere in Connecticut last year, a 6-month-oldboy was fed late one night. His mother fell asleep, and when she awoke, she assumed the baby had been put in his swing by his father, as was usual after the baby ate. But the baby hadn’t been moved, and a few hours later, the parents discovered him swaddled tightly, face down in their bed. The baby’s cause of death was classified as undetermined by the state Child Review Fatality Panel, which is charged with examining unexpected deaths of children under the age of 18 who have previously come into contact with state services. But as State Child Advocate Sarah Eagan said at a recent legislative forum, babies “don’t just die from what we used to call crib death.” Amid the state’s tragic infant and toddler homicides and horrific cases of abuse, a sad number of infant and toddler deaths are entirely preventable simply by paying attention to the place that should be the safest, where they sleep.