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Underweight Infant Birth Rates Rising, The South Hardest Hit

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 12, 2008 12:44 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: SIDS, Premature births, Autism, Infants and Children, FDA and Prescription Drugs

Rates of low birth rate are rising, especially in the south.

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IMAGE SOURCE : Wikimedia Commons/ premature infant/ author: Hallbrianh

  

The number of underweight infants has increased to its highest rate in 40 years, according to a new report. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Louisiana are the states hardest hit.

Babies born underweight, defined as less than 5.5 pounds, are at a greater risk of having long-term disabilities or dying. Low birth weight has also been linked to autism.

Premature births are the leading factor in low birth weight children.

The numbers come from the annual Kids Count report on America’s youth. They are troubling because they represent a reversal in the positive trends counted in the late 1990s.

Poverty and the limited access to health care is a complicating factor in the rising number of low birth weight children.  

"The impact of the decline in the housing market doesn't show up in this study," Laura Beavers, of the Kids Count project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The worst infant mortality rates are found among children living in homes with jobless or underemployed parents, children living in poverty, and children in single-parent homes.

Among states that fared the best are New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Utah.  

At the other end of the rankings are Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Alabama, and South Carolina. Many of the poorest ranked areas compare to third world countries.

Among races, the low birth weight is higher for African-Americans (13.6 percent) compared to whites (7.3 percent). Hispanics and low birth weight were ranked at 6.9 percent.

UNICEF recently ranked the U.S. the second-worst among all 33 industrialized nations in overall child well-being.

The areas of improvement in the report include the child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate, and the high school dropout rate.

The Kids Count database features child well-being measures for 50 largest U.S. cities.  

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is the 15th largest private foundation in the country and was founded in 1948 by Jim Casey, founder of UPS. Annie E. Casey was his mother.

Its mission is to foster public policies, reforms and community supports that meet the needs of vulnerable children and families. #


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