Wisconsin is ranked 19th in the country for the health of its women and children, according to the latest report from the United Health Foundation.
That’s down five spots from last year’s ranking of 14th, but still better than the state’s overall health ranking of 23rd in the organization’s most recent annual report. Wisconsin’s lower ranking in the latest report represents one of the larger drops across the country.
The report highlights factors negatively impacting the health of women and children in the state, including excessive drinking for adult women, a high rate of tobacco use among pregnant women, rising drug deaths and teen suicides.
On top of that, Wisconsin has a relatively low number of children with “adequate” health insurance, according to the report.
Still, the state ranked above the U.S. average in a number of areas including behavioral health for children, for which Wisconsin was ranked 10th in the nation.
Wisconsin was also ranked above average for health policy related to women and children, though policy related to infants in particular was ranked just below the national average.
In the clinical care category, Wisconsin was ranked 8th overall, driven by a strong performance for both women and infants. And health outcomes for women in the state were ranked 9th overall.
The UHC report also highlights specific areas of strength for the state, including a low prevalence of diabetes among women and a low teen birth rate. In the past year, teen births in the state decreased 15 percent from 16.2 to 13.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19.
In the past three years, the percentage of infants exclusively breastfed for six months increased from 23.9 percent to 28.3 percent — a positive indication for health. And tobacco use among youth ages 12-17 went down from 9.3 percent to 5.5 percent in the same period.
But at the same time, teen suicide increased 30 percent in the past three years, from 10.6 deaths to 13.8 deaths per 100,000 adolescents ages 15-19. And drug deaths increased 30 percent, from 14.2 to 18.5 deaths per 100,000 females ages 15-44.
On the national level, the latest UHC report shows rates of teen suicide and child mortality have “increased sharply” since the first report in 2016. But other areas are improving across the country, including lower teen birth rates and higher rates of flu vaccinations among women.