A new America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report released by United HealthFoundation finds concerning increases in several of the nation’s key mortality measures for women and children. The report builds on the inaugural 2016 Health of Women and Children Report.
United Health Foundation identifies areas of success as well as challenges for the health of women, infants and children. The report utilizes 62 health indicators, including those that examine the community and environment, clinical care, behaviors, policies and health outcomes, to better understand the changing health of women and children across the country and state-by-state.
How Kentucky Fared
There are a few bright spots including the low cost of infant child care, high prevalence of well-woman visits and low prevalence of substance dependence or abuse among adolescents.
But, challenges remain, such as the high prevalence of tobacco use during pregnancy, the high prevalence of smoking among women and the low prevalence of neighborhood amenities. Kentucky dropped eight spots since the last issue in 2016 and is now 42nd overall. Since the 2016 edition:
-Drug deaths increased 27 percent from 23.0 to 29.1 deaths per 100,000 females aged 15-44.
-Well-woman visits among women aged 18-44 increased nine percent from 67.6 percent to 73.7 percent.
-Tobacco use during pregnancy decreased six percent from 20.7 percent to 19.5 percent of live births.
-Neonatal mortality decreased five percent from 4.1 to 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.
-Teen suicide increased 25 percent from 9.5 to 11.9 deaths per 100,000 adolescents aged 15-19.
-Meningococcal immunization among adolescents aged 13-17 increased 10 percent from 78.2 percent to 85.9 percent.
Using the Data
This data provides a benchmark for communities and healthcare providers across the country as they work to improve the health and well-being of women, infants and children. Providers can focus efforts on areas where improvement is most needed.
Deneen Vojta, MD, a pediatrician and senior adviser to United Health Foundation, said, “The population in Kentucky is different than in other states, especially with lifestyle issues. Since there is a high prevalence of women who are obese in Kentucky, it’s no surprise children have excess weight, as women are often the decision-makers in a family.”
This is a good place for pediatricians to start a conversation. Vojta said, “Women will make changes to help their children, if the healthcare provider raises the issue in a respectful manner.”
Practice managers can also benefit from this data. Vojta said, “Solid data is the foundation for decision-makers when they are deciding where to put budget and resources. This data allows them to use the resources smarter.”