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Report: Health of Kentucky Women and Children Has Declined Since 2016

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A new report shows Kentucky falling down a ranking of states with the best women’s and children’s health.

The America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Reportlists Kentucky at 42, down eight spots since 2016, when the report was last issued.

Dr. Deneen Vojta is a pediatrician and Executive Vice President of Enterprise Research and Development with United Health Group, which issued the report.

She says a major factor contributing to the poor health of Kentucky children is the amount of adverse childhood experiences, or physical violence and emotional trauma, they suffer.

“When children are exposed at a very young age—or any age—to these kind of issues, it’s toxic and it leads to poor outcomes in school, and health, and behavior, and even long-term economic outcomes.”

The report also shows the rate of drug deaths for Kentucky women is more than double the national average.

One positive sign is that tobacco use by pregnant women in the commonwealth declined six-percent since the last report.

Other findings include:

  • 33.8% of women aged 18-44 are obese and 33.5% of children aged 10-17 are either overweight or obese.
  • Child mortality increased 11.3% from 24.7 to 27.5 deaths per 100,000 children aged 1-18.
  • Teen suicide increased 25% from 9.5 to 11.9 deaths per 100,000 adolescents aged 15-19.
Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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