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According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, in 2018 there were more than 58 million women of reproductive age (18-44) and nearly 73.4 million children (0-17) in the United States. Women and children make up 40.2 percent of the U.S. population, and both populations are growing more diverse. According to U.S. Census, non-Hispanic white children will account for less than half of children in 2020. Figure 1 shows the change in the population of women (ages 18-44) and children between 1990 and 2018 by five racial/ethnic groups. Since 1990, the proportion of the population who are non-Hispanic white has decreased in women and children, while the proportion in each racial and ethnic minority has increased.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Social and economic factors, including concentrated disadvantage, continue to influence individual and population health and well-being across the country.
  • Stark disparities exist in key measures of health across states and by race/ethnicity, gender and education. To achieve the highest level of health for all people, these disparities need to be addressed and eliminated.
  • Smoking and tobacco use have decreased among women of reproductive age, pregnant women and youth.
  • Advances have been made in clinical care measures such as flu vaccination among women of reproductive age and HPV vaccination among male teens.
  • The teen birth rate has decreased.
  • Adverse health behaviors including excessive drinking have increased among women of reproductive age.
  • No progress has been made addressing low birthweight infants.
  • Troubling mortality rates reveal increases in child mortality, teen suicide and drug deaths among women of reproductive age.

Purpose and objective

America’s Health Rankings’ purpose is to create widespread awareness of where states stand on important public health measures. To achieve this, comprehensive data are necessary to assess the current health of populations across the nation. The 2019 America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report provides a state-by-state comparison of the health of women, infants and children. The report combines various health-related measures across categories of health determinants and health outcomes using a wealth of reputable data sources.
  • Fifty-five measures of health are used to rank states. Additionally, six measures from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and 12 supplemental measures that are not included in the state rankings calculation reveal current and emerging issues affecting women and children.
  • Five categories of health comprise the rankings model: behaviors, community & environment, policy, clinical care and health outcomes.
  • Twenty-one data sources are used including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s National Survey of Children’s Health.
The objective of America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report is to improve population health of women and children by:
  • Providing a benchmark for states. Each year the report presents trends, strengths, challenges and highlights of every state. In addition, the website offers a visual that displays all measures in order of impact on a state’s overall rank. This enables states to zoom in on health issues that have the largest impact on population health of women and children. With America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report’s three years of data, community leaders, public health officials and policymakers can monitor health trends over time and compare their state with neighboring states and the nation.
  • Stimulating action. The report is intended to promote data-driven discussions among individuals, community leaders, the media, policymakers and public health officials that can drive change and improve the health of women and children. States can incorporate the report into their annual review of programs, and many organizations use the report as a reference when assigning goals for health-improvement plans.
  • Highlighting disparities. The state rankings show disparities in health between states and among population groups at state and national levels. The report highlights disparities in age, gender, race/ethnicity, education and income.

New this year

Twelve supplemental measures were added to the America’s Health Rankings website to highlight current and emerging issues affecting women, infants and children. Additionally, state-level data for adverse childhood experiences and concentrated disadvantage give additional context that allows users to dive deeper into these two summary measures.

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