Teen suicide and child mortality rates have increased sharply since the 2016 report, according to the United Health Foundation’s 2019 America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report. The report finds the teen suicide rate and child mortality rate rising over the past three years.
“This year’s Health of Women and Children Report highlights troubling health trends for America’s youth in particular and underscores a pressing need to address these challenges as a nation as soon as possible,” said Dr. Linda Genen, Optum Chief Medical Director of Women’s Health.
Key national findings from this year’s report include:
- The U.S. teen suicide rate increased 25 percent for adolescents ages 15-19 since the 2016 Report, rising from 8.4 to 10.5 deaths per 100,000 adolescents.
- The U.S. child mortality rate increased 6 percent for children ages 1-19 since the 2016 Report—an especially concerning trend after declines since 1980.
- The maternal mortality rate is highest among African American mothers at 63.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, 3.8-times higher than the lowest rate (among Asian/Pacific Islander mothers).
“Maternal mortality rates continue to be troubling as well, and are more distressing for African American women and in specific states by comparison. Collectively, we must do more to reverse these concerning trends,” said Dr. Janice Huckaby, Optum Chief Medical Officer of Maternal-Child Health Strategy.
Positive Trends in Teen Birth, Smoking and Flu Vaccinations
Despite the health challenges faced by women and children, the nation has made encouraging improvements to decrease the rate of teen births and smoking, and to increase the rate of flu vaccinations among women since the 2016 Report. Notably:
- Tobacco smoking among women ages 18-44 decreased 12 percent
- Teen births decreased 22 percent among teens ages 15-19
- Nearly 1.3 million more women ages 18-44 received the flu vaccine than in 2016, an increase of 5 percent
Partner Says Findings Critical to Helping Meet Needs of Young People
Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, a Cincinnati-based, nationally recognized innovator of services for youth and families in crisis that receives support from the United Health Foundation, praised the findings of the Report for its accuracy and value.
“Data sources that help quantify the impact of social determinants of health in our community are an important part of helping Lighthouse adapt to meet the needs of young people and families,” said Paul Haffner, president and CEO of Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, which receives support from the United Health Foundation. “We know first-hand that the needs are significant, and in some cases, growing. We are grateful to the United Health Foundation for this information to help us advance conversations with policymakers at various local, state and national levels.”
State Rankings in 2019: Rhode Island Ranks No. 1, Mississippi Ranks No. 50
Rhode Island is the healthiest state for women and children, according to the 2019 America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report, followed by Massachusetts (No. 2), New Hampshire (No. 3), Vermont (No. 4) and Connecticut (No. 5). Mississippi ranks as the state with the most health challenges for women and children, followed by Arkansas (No. 49), Oklahoma (No. 48), Louisiana (No. 47) and Nevada (No. 46).
New York has made the most progress on women and children’s health since last year’s report, improving six ranks from 19 to 13. Maine showed the next greatest improvement, moving up five ranks, followed by Maryland, Missouri and New Jersey at four ranks each. Nebraska and Washington experienced the greatest declines since 2018, with each falling six ranks to 28 and 17, respectively.
For more information about UnitedHealth, visit www.unitedhealthgroup.com/SocialResponsibility.