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Latino kids face more early obstacles, but there are solutions that work

November 16, 2017
Carmen Sesin
NBC News

About eight-in-ten Latino children face at least one difficult childhood experience and have fewer resources for nutrition, exercise and early childhood learning, especially pre-K, according to a report by Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. These early roadblocks affect future health and personal development, but researchers say there are solutions that work.

The study, released Tuesday is “a comprehensive research review on what is the current state of early Latino childhood development,” said Rosalie Aguilar, project coordinator for Salud America! and an author of the new research review.

Around 78 percent of Latino kids face at least one adverse childhood experience, which can include poverty, divorce, neglect, abuse or even violence.

“That number was really high and that was quite surprising to see,” Aguilar said.

These experiences have a profound effect on the development of children and can lead to health problems like obesity, anxiety, and aggression.

Learning about the long term impacts that this has on health outcomes such as heart disease, obesity and even cancers were an eye opener for Aguilar.

When it comes to health, researchers say part of the problem is that Latino children tend to live in neighborhoods with less access to healthy foods. They also have limited spaces where they can be active, like parks and recreational facilities.

On the educational front, many Latino children are not on par with their peers when they begin kindergarten. Around 40 percent live in “child care deserts” with few preschools. And largely due to lack of access and because of costs, only 42 percent of Latino kids attend preschool, which makes them unprepared when they begin Kindergarten.