DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A new report finds Ohio ranks 32nd in the nation when it comes to the health of women, children and infants.
According to the report by America’s Health Rankings of the United Health Foundation, Ohio has moved up a spot from 2016, the last time the study was conducted.
But local experts we spoke with say there’s still work to do.
“We know as a state we have been ranking towards the bottom, if not at the bottom, of the infant mortality list for the last few years,” said Jessica Saunders, who works in the community health office for Dayton Children’s. “There’s been a lot of looking at what is going on with mothers and babies and that dynamic.”
Among contributing factors cited in the report – a lower percentage of infants exclusively breastfed over a six-month period. The report also factors in the availability of publicly-funded health services for women.
Promoting healthy nutrition, including breastfeeding, and making sure women and children get the doctor’s appointments they need are some ways experts are trying to prevent and lessen health problems, Saunders said.
“Making sure that moms do access the healthcare that they’re supposed to get, babies do go to well-child visits, moms do breastfeed – all of those things fall into these numbers,” she said.
Drugs and tobacco use are also contributing factors to women and children’s health, Saunders said. The report by the United Health Foundation cites a high rate of drug-related deaths among women as a major challenge for Ohioans.
Doctors at Dayton Children’s are trying to educate patients about those dangers to themselves and their children, Saunders said.
“Making sure our teens are staying away from tobacco and other drugs is really important ’cause that can negatively impact their children down the line if a mother were to become pregnant,” she said.
The report says Ohio does have some strengths when it comes to women and children’s health. Those include a higher amount of well-baby doctor’s visits and a lower percentage of women without health insurance.