Newly released: Recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities calls for action on early childhood, healthy communities, and bridging health and health care. Read the report and explore the charts, infographics, and videos at

Infant and Child Health

Infant health shapes child health which in turn powerfully influences adult health. For example, a baby born too early or too small is more likely to die before reaching her or his first birthday. That baby also is more likely to be cognitively, behaviorally, and physically handicapped as a child. Ill health in infancy and childhood can limit school success, leading to lower educational attainment, with consequent adverse health effects (See Education). That child is also more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes as an adult. Infant and child health varies by income, education, and race or ethnic group.


  • Issue Brief: Education Matters for Health

    This Commission issue brief, Education Matters for Health, discusses the large body of evidence linking education and health and examines why, across America and generations, people with more education live longer and experience better health outcomes.


  • Fact Sheet: Improving the Health of All Americans through Safe and Healthy Housing

    Poor quality and inadequate housing contributes to health problems such as infectious and chronic diseases, injuries and inadequate childhood development.


  • Fact Sheet: Improving the Health of All Americans by Focusing on the Early Years of Life

    Deficits in brain, cognitive and behavioral development early in life are strongly linked to important health outcomes later in life, including cardiovascular disease and stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking, drug use and depression.


  • Fact Sheet: Improving the Health of All Americans through Better Nutrition

    Poor nutrition is threatening America’s health. Today’s children may be the first in American history to live sicker and die younger than their parents’ generation. Experts warn that excess weight could reduce average life expectancy by five years or more in the next few decades.


More Resources


  • Stories

    Andrea Silva

    At Centura Health at Home in Denver, Andrea Silva resolved a struggle that many new mothers face – returning to work while continuing to provide nutritious breast milk for her baby. Meet Andrea Silva


    Claudine Paris

    At 71, Claudine Paris feels like a “rock star” every day she walks through the hallways of James John Elementary School in Portland, Ore., where she volunteers as a literacy tutor. Meet Claudine Paris


    More Stories

  • Leadership Blog

    From Congress to the Cafeteria: Healthy Food is a Priority

    by David R. Williams, Ph.D., Staff Director
    November 03, 2009

    The Commission recognized the importance of nutritious food for improving the health of Americans when it released its recommendations in April. It saw communities without any access to grocery stores and fresh produce, school meals for children containing chicken nuggets, pizza and fries, and a country disconnected from the food system it relies on for its nutritional wellbeing. But recently, the tide has begun to turn. Read More

    Guest Post: “What does ‘good health’ mean to girls?”

    by Laurie A. Westley, Senior Vice President, Girl Scouts of the USA
    November 05, 2009

    America’s health starts with healthy children, but what does “good health” mean to kids? At Girls Scouts of the USA, we’re working to bring an important perspective to the table: we know what works for girls. Read More

    Poverty’s High Cost to Health

    by Staff, Commission to Build a Healthier America
    October 19, 2009

    In the September 2009 Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity webcast, RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., discusses social and economic factors that influence health, including access to high quality health care, healthy neighborhoods and grocery stores. Read More

    More Blogs

News and Events

  • USA Today: A healthier Head Start focuses more on preventing obesity

    December 08, 2009

    Many preschool children in Head Start programs are being offered fruits and vegetables and low-fat or non-fat milk daily as directors are increasingly concerned about childhood obesity. The children also have a chance to play each day. Read More

  • Washington Post: America's economic pain brings hunger pangs

    November 23, 2009

    The nation's economic crisis has catapulted the number of Americans who lack enough food to the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat. Read More

More News and Events