New Report Highlights New Level of Detail in Wide Variations of Women and Children’s Health Across the Country

September 28, 2016
  • State's overall ranking may mask wide variations in health of women, children and infants

  • Majority of U.S. children—nine out of 10 babies and eight out of 10 children—receiving recommended well-visits with health care provider

  • Report highlights role of home and community environment in a child's health

Notable differences in the health of women and children exist across – and often even within – states according to some of the key findings of United Health Foundation's 2016 America's Health Rankings® Health of Women and Children Report. The new report includes an in-depth look at more than 60 measures of health and well-being, selected by a steering group of women's and children's health experts.

The Health of Women and Children is Inconsistent Across – and Often Within – States

States currently ranked the healthiest overall for women's and children's health are generally in the Northeast, while states experiencing the greatest challenges are generally in the South. Specifically, the report finds:

  • For women, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Vermont fare best; Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas have the greatest opportunity for improvement.
  • On infant health, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont are strongest; Mississippi, Arkansas and Georgia face the greatest challenges.
  • When it comes to the health of children, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire rank at the top; Mississippi, Arizona and Nevada have more work to do.

The report highlights that a high or low ranking for one segment of the population does not mean that other segments will be similarly ranked. In fact, it finds that some states rank high for the health of infants relative to other states, while their ranks for women and children may be lower, or vice versa. For example:

  • Alaska, Arizona and Idaho score above average for the health of infants, but rank below average for the health of women and children.
  • Child health ranks below average in Montana and Oregon, but these two states perform better than the national average when it comes to the health of women and infants.

Majority of U.S. Children are Receiving Key Recommended Clinical Preventive Services

The report highlights national successes in children's health such as use of preventive services including:

  • A majority of children, nine out of 10 babies and eight out of 10 children, are receiving their recommended baby and adolescent well-visits with a health care provider;
  • Within the recommended series of early childhood vaccines, more than 90% of children are receiving vaccinations for polio (93 percent), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) (92 percent), Hepatitis B (92 percent) and chicken pox (91 percent).

A Child's Home and Community Environment Can Have a Long-Lasting Impact on His or Her Health

The report highlights the impact of home and community environment on a child's health, and illustrates the importance of more integrated approaches to children's health.

Previous research has shown that children experiencing a higher number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)* in their home environment are more likely to develop chronic health conditions and engage in unhealthy behaviors, while supportive neighborhoods can promote long-lasting positive health outcomes and contribute to the social and emotional health of a child. Specifically, the report finds:

  • Nearly one in four children (16.4 million) have faced multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) before reaching their 18th birthday;
  • Three-quarters of children live in a supportive neighborhood where people look out for each other's well-being, which positively contributes to a child's health.

"This report reinforces the need to move toward a holistic, integrated approach to help improve overall health outcomes, especially for women and children," said Deneen Vojta, M.D., a pediatrician and senior adviser to United Health Foundation, and Executive Vice President, Enterprise Research and Development, UnitedHealth Group. "We need to work together – across states, communities and the public health sector – to find ways to create supportive environments and encourage wellness and improve health among women, infants and children."

To read the report and other materials, visit America's Health Rankings' new website, which offers enhanced interactive visual illustrations:

About United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings and Health of Women and Children Report

America's Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report includes more than 60 measures of health and well-being, all selected by a steering group of experts in the field of women's and children's health. The report shines light on the strengths and challenges faced by the nation and offers a roadmap for community leaders, public health officials, policymakers, and the media to improve the health of women and children within their states.

United Health Foundation also produces the annual America's Health Rankings Annual Report and has recently expanded its reporting series to include a number of spotlight reports focused on important markers of the nation's health, including prevention and the impacts of unhealthy behaviors. For more information, visit

About United Health Foundation 

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed nearly $315 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at

* Indicator that a child has experienced the following: socioeconomic hardship, divorce/parental separation, lived with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem, victim or witness of neighborhood violence, lived with someone who was mentally ill or suicidal, domestic violence witness, parent served time in jail, treated or judged unfairly due to race/ethnicity, or death of parent.

** Percentage of children aged 0 to 17 whose parents report their child is "usually" or "always" safe in their community and neighborhood and who "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" with at least three of the following: In my neighborhood people help each other out, we watch out for each other's children, there are people I can count on in this neighborhood, there are trusted adults nearby to help my child if they got hurt or scared while playing outside.