Your Neighborhood Can Determine Baby’s Life Expectancy

profile picture of Emily Windram
ByEmily Windram
Intern
Updated
Mar 2017
Hero Image
Photo: Shutterstock

You want baby to live a long and happy life. And a few miles can make all the difference, according to a series of maps released by the  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The nonprofit organization researched average life expectancies by neighborhood in a number of US cities. The title of the project, “Short Distances to Large Gaps in Health,” says it all; within each city, neighboring areas experience very different life expectancies — with gaps up to two decades.

One of the most shocking reveals is in Richmond, Virginia, where a baby born in Gilpin has a life expectancy 20 years lower than a baby born just five miles away in Westover Hills. Urban Chicago has a 16-year gap, while New York sees a nine-year difference between a baby born in Midtown Manhattan and a baby born in East Harlem.

In 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a health policy brief that covered the major factors that affect life expectancy and general health status, such as race, gender, education and zip code. These factors “should not make a difference,” RWJF states clearly, but acknowledges that “where we live, learn, and work defines — to a surprisingly high degree — our health.”

“Our goal is to help local officials, residents, and others understand that there’s more to health than merely health care, and that improving health requires having a broad range of players at the table." says Derek Chapman, PhD, associate director for research at the VCU Center on Society and Health. These “players” include factors like access to education, nutritious food, health care options, social services and more.

If we do manage to bump up baby’s average life expectancy in the future — some scientists believe we could reach an average of 100 years old—  we need to be proactive, RWJF urges. To follow the discussion on how to improve the future, follow their Twitter hashtag #CloseHealthGaps.

Related Video

Bindi Irwin and Chandler Powell Are Expecting Their First Child

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/11/2020

These Are the Top 5 Back-to-School Trends on Etsy Right Now

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/11/2020

In Honor of Shark Week, Nick Jr. Is Playing Baby Shark All Week Long

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/11/2020

These Are the Top 10 Best and Worst States to Have a Baby in 2020

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/10/2020

New AAP Report Finds 97,000 Kids Recently Tested Positive for COVID-19

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/10/2020

Hasbro Pulls Trolls Doll Amidst Complaints of Inappropriate Sensor Feature

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/07/2020

Child’s Temperament May Drive How Much TV They Watch, Study Says

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/07/2020

UPPAbaby Is on Sale for 25 Percent Off at Buybuy BABY Right Now

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/07/2020

Bachelor Alum Claps Back at People Who Say Her Kid Is Too Old to Breastfeed

Emily Gillen, PhD
Health Services Researcher
Published
08/06/2020
Advertisement