Rhode Island was named the best state in the nation in this year’s Health of Women and Children ranking. The annual report from the United Health Foundation compares factors including infant mortality, prenatal care, substance abuse numbers and more.
Rhode Island came in first, with Massachusetts just behind in second place. The state was praised for its low percentage of uninsured women, high percentage of women who receive prenatal care before the third trimester and low child mortality rate.
According to the report, substance abuse disorders among young people fell significantly over the past year from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent, a 16 percent decrease. In addition, tobacco use during pregnancy went down 20 percent in the last year from 7.5 percent to 6.0 percent.
Tobacco use among women in general is also on the decline, falling by one-third from 18.1 percent to 12.2 percent in those aged 18 to 44.
Another positive sign for infant health is breastfeeding, and more Rhode Island women are breastfeeding for longer periods of time. Over the last three years, babies who were breastfed for six months or more increased to 28.9 percent from 17.3 percent, a 67 percent jump. During that same time, the number of teen births fell 28 percent.
Despite being in first place nationwide, Rhode Island does still have room for improvement. The study cited high drug death rates among women, the high cost of child car and not enough supportive neighborhoods as some of the greatest drawbacks for women and children’s health in the state.