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Why Does Ohio Rank So Poorly In Women's And Children's Health?

When it comes to women's and children's health in the state of Ohio, the diagnosis is not good.

The United Health Foundation recently released its 2016 Health of Women and Children rankings, and Ohio fell closer to the bottom than the top.  Ohio ranked 33rd among states.  

WOSU's Sam Hendren talked to Dr. Ana Fuentevilla of United Health Care about the study’s findings.

Click the play button below to hear their conversation.

The below is an automated transcript. Please excuse minor typos and errors.

Sam Hendren: Could you walk us through the report and tell us the significant facts that you found?

Ana Fuentevilla: Yes, I'm happy to. Specifically, Ohio didn't fare very well in any of the three populations. The health of women ranked 35, the health of infants ranked 37 and the health of children ranked 28. So a lot of opportunity for improvement or places to focus.

There is a significant role for improvement in helping women address behaviors that impact their health. And another area of significant opportunity in Ohio is the high infant mortality rate. But I don't think it's a surprise that the study definitely validated that. So I think overall what this tells us is that Ohio needs to make some improvements in the health care of women, infants and children.

Sam Hendren: How do we make improvements? What are the reasons for the lower ranking?

Ana Fuentevilla: Let me just start first with the health of women. In the state of Ohio, women are smoking a lot. So that's an area of opportunity where you know if we could address just that behavior, Ohio ranks, you know, in the bottom when we look at the rate of smoking amongst women, especially women that are pregnant. So that's a behavior that impacts women's health and it impacts the health of an infant.

Another I would say that is impacting the health of women is, there seems to be a high drug death for women between the ages of 15 and 44 in Ohio. We look at infants again. The concern there is the high infant mortality, high neonatal mortality, that's the death of a newborn.

And again when you look at what was driving those outcomes, you know, there's some opportunity here about women getting their well-baby check. And I wanted to highlight that as very important when women get their well-baby check, we see improved health of the infant and a reduction in infant mortality.

Another important finding is making sure that women are getting their prenatal care before the third trimester. So again Ohio ranked not very well there.

Sam Hendren: What is necessary for change and how long is change going to take and how do we bring about it?

Ana Fuentevilla: Yeah, I think that's a great question. I think one of the things that we haven't talked about that this study highlighted was the importance of more than just good health care and the health of infants and children.

But one of the things that the study found was that to ensure future good health for our kids, for children, having a healthy home environment and supportive neighborhood is critically important in addition to having important and good health care and preventative services. But that is this combination of good health care with healthy home environment and supportive neighborhoods that will lead to optimal health outcomes for kids and infants.