10 best, worst states for women, children, infant health

Women, children and infants fare best in terms of health and well-being in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, according to a new study from the United Health Foundation.

The study evaluates each state on 60 different measures of health from 18 distinct sources, including obesity, smoking, food insecurity, publicly-funded women's health services, water fluoridation and teen births. States are given a value for each measure, and the values are measured up against national values. The weighted sum of all measures determines a state's overall score.

And while some states are doing well in promoting the health and well-being of the nation's women, infants and children, others fall far behind. The report, "America's Health Rankings Health of Women and Children," finds that the worst state for women, children and infants — Mississippi — is so far behind the next worst state — Arkansas — that it will likely remain the worst state in years to come without large scale interventions.

The report also notes states may excel in health for women, but not for children or infants. For example, the best states for women's health are Massachusetts, Minnesota and Vermont, according to the rankings, but for infants, the best states are New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont. And just as the states may not be healthiest across all populations, they may not be the healthiest for all groups within those populations. The United Health Foundation found racial and ethnic disparities persist among women, children and infant health. For example, infant mortality is more than twice as high for black babies than white babies, and rates of teen suicide and drug-related deaths are much higher among whites.

For a comprehensive view, here are the 10 healthiest states overall for women, children and infants, according to the report.

1. Massachusetts
2. Vermont
3. New Hampshire
4. Connecticut
5. Minnesota
6. Utah
7. Hawaii 
8. Iowa
9. Rhode Island
10. California

Here are the 10 worst states overall for women, children and infant health, according to the report.

41. Texas
42. Tennessee
43. Arizona
44. Alabama
45. Georgia
46. Oklahoma
47. Nevada
48. Louisiana
49. Arkansas
50. Mississippi

Find the full rankings, individual measure performance by state and methodology here.


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