Missouri ranks 33rd in Kids Count well-being report

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Missouri ranked at 33 of the 50 states in children's health and well-being, according to Kids Count data released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The annual report tracks categories including teen birth rate, child poverty, infant mortality rate and high school dropout rate.

“I think that is disappointing to see because we certainly want the child well-being within our state to be positive,” said Emily Schwartze, director of programs and policy at Citizens for Missouri’s Children.

The Kids Count report urges the government to change its formula for measuring poverty, strengthen efforts in the 2010 Census to fully count children and minorities, and improve the national vital statistics system to better track data on disadvantaged families. Schwartze said Missouri typically ranks in the mid- to lower-30s in the report.

The government should not cut back on spending for data collection even with the current recession, said Patrick McCarthy, the Casey Foundation’s senior vice president.

“Ensuring that policymakers and managers have the information they need to make critically important decisions can deliver an immense payoff in reduced waste and improved results for children,” he said.

Nationwide, improvements since 2000 are in six categories: infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, high school dropout rate and the rate of teens not in school and not working. Four areas have worsened since 2000: low-birthweight babies, children living in families where no parent has full-time year-round employment, children in poverty and children in single-parent families.

The child poverty rate increased from 17 percent to 18 percent from 2000 to 2007, with 900,000 more children living in poverty since 2000.

In Missouri, there have been improvements from 2000 to 2006-07 data in the areas of child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate and percent of teens who are high school dropouts.

Areas where child well-being is worsening are percent of low-birthweight babies, infant mortality rates and percent of children in poverty.

Nationally, the country is seeing improvements in infant mortality rate and low-birthweight babies, but Missouri has declining trends, Schwartze said.

“I think those are two areas that we want to take notice of and try to improve because we want our youngest children born healthy,” she said.

In 2006, for the first time in 14 years, there was a national increase in the teen birth rate.

Even though data show that from 2000 to 2006 Missouri's teen birth rate improved, numbers from 2005 to 2006 increased. In 2000, there were 49 teen births per every 1,000 females from ages 15-19. That number decreased to 42 in 2005, and went back up to 46 in 2006, Schwartze said.

To improve Missouri's position, Schwartze said it’s important to look at bordering states and to find the best practices in those states that better the lives of those kids.

“It’s difficult to say, 'If Missouri does this, our ranking will improve,'” Schwartze said. “If other states improve, we may not see a dramatic change in our rank.”

There are 150,000 uninsured children in Missouri who do not have health coverage, but 99,000 of them are eligible, Schwartze said.

“Investing in outreach and enrollment methods will allow us to target those kids who are eligible but not enrolled,” she said. “We hope they will grow into a generation of productive citizens for the state.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ray Shapiro July 29, 2009 | 12:44 a.m.

("Areas where child well-being is worsening are percent of low-birthweight babies, infant mortality rates and percent of children in poverty.")
Low-birth weight babies: Blame the mother.
("# Chronic health problems in the mother: Maternal high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart, lung and kidney problems sometimes can reduce birthweight (2, 3).
# Smoking: Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes are nearly twice as likely to have a low-birthweight baby as women who do not smoke (5). Smoking slows fetal growth and increases the risk of premature delivery (5).
# Alcohol and illicit drugs: Alcohol and illicit drugs can limit fetal growth and can cause birth defects (2, 3). Some drugs, such as cocaine, also may increase the risk of premature delivery.
# Infections in the mother: Certain infections, especially those involving the uterus, may increase the risk of preterm delivery (6).
# Infections in the fetus: Certain viral and parasitic infections, including cytomegalovirus, rubella, chickenpox and toxoplasmosis, can slow fetal growth and cause birth defects (2, 3).
# Placental problems: Placental problems can reduce flow of blood and nutrients to the fetus, limiting growth. In some cases, a baby may need to be delivered early to prevent serious complications in mother and baby.
# Inadequate maternal weight gain: Women who don;t gain enough weight during pregnancy increase their risk of having a low-birthweight baby (2, 6). Women of normal weight should usually gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.
# Socioeconomic factors: Low income and lack of education are associated with increased risk of having a low-birthweight baby, although the underlying reasons for this are not well understood. Black women and women under 17 and over 35 years of age also are at increased risk.")

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 29, 2009 | 12:46 a.m.

Infant Mortality: Blame the mother.
("Currently in the United States, the greatest risk factors for LWBs include smoking while pregnant, and teen pregnancies. More than 12% of smokers give birth to LBW babies, and LBW is the primary cause of neonatal infant mortality. Also, the U.S. has a higher teen pregnancy rate than almost any other developed country, and 95% of these pregnancies are reported to be accidental. (In fact, more than 52% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are reported to be accidental.) According to a report by "Healthy Start" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, approximately one in eight babies born to teens will be LBW, and more than one in every five babies who die in the U.S. are to teen mothers.

Increasing the risk of infant mortality in teen births is the fact that teens are least likely to access medical care during the first trimester of pregnancy, during the remainder of their pregnancy, and after their baby is born. Teenage women using drugs and/or alcohol are more likely to experience pregnancy outside of marriage than teen women who do not use drugs and alcohol.

Race and ethnicity is also a risk factor. Since 1990, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. has dropped almost 22%. However, according to the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, although 1998 saw a significant reduction in mortality rates from HIV/AIDS, murders and violent crimes, as well as a decline in teen births, the infant mortality rate remained the same as in 1997 (7.2/1,000). There was actually an increase in LBW babies in 1998, accounting for 7.6% of all births compared with 7.5% the previous year. While this increase was noted only among the non-Hispanic white population, LBWs among African-American women remained twice as high as Hispanic and white women. An African-American women whose household income is less than $10,000 annually is almost twice as likely to give birth to a LBW infant, and four times more likely than a white woman with a household income of more than $40,000 annually. Twice as many African-American babies compared to white American babies are likely to die before the age of one, and the American Indian/Alaska native population historically experienced a 70% higher infant mortality rate than white Americans.")

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 29, 2009 | 12:49 a.m.

("Areas where child well-being is worsening are percent of low-birthweight babies, infant mortality rates and percent of children in poverty.")

Percent of Children in Poverty?
Factor in the money spent on Medicaid for Pregnant Women, Medicaid for Children, WIC, food stamps, free park feeding programs, Head Start, Housing Assistance, TANF, free children programs, libraries, parks and recreation, church programs, free clinics, Public School, After-School programs, United Way agencies and a state which has a low-cost of living and low real estate opportunities... what child needs lots of cash in his or her piggy bank?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 29, 2009 | 1:02 a.m.

Missouri: Number of Reported Legal Abortions for 2005: approx. 8,000
source and more:
Blame the mother.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 29, 2009 | 4:41 a.m.

ray shapiro great job at fact finding that this reporter did not tag onto their article here. It is nice hearing......The rest of the story.

You really should go back to teaching again as you would make a great journalism teacher.

(Report Comment)

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