Colorado earns B+ for adults’ health, lower for children’s
An annual health data report shows Colorado adults score high in numerous health indicators while their younger counterparts lag behind.
The 2012 Colorado Health Report Card, released last week by The Colorado Health Foundation, gives a “B+” for the health of Colorado adults and senior citizens and a “B” grade for the health of teens.
Data for babies earned the state a “C” on the most recent report card, while Colorado children had the worst health grade, a “D+.”
The highest ranking for prenatal and infant health is a fifth-place finish among states for percentage of pregnant women who did not smoke during their final trimester: 91.9 percent. Mesa County’s rate is comparable at 91 percent in 2011, according to Hilltop Community Resources.
Hilltop program B4 Babies and Beyond is working to improve that figure with smoking cessation classes for expectant moms and “Baby and Me Smoke Free,” a program that offers diaper vouchers to women who abstain from smoking during pregnancy and for up to a year after giving birth.
“It saves clients a lot of money, not just on diapers but on cigarettes as well,” Hilltop Child and Family Services Director Jackie Sievers said.
B4 Babies participants, who are often younger, make less money and have less insurance than other Mesa County moms, went from 24 percent smoking cigarettes during their first trimester to 13 percent smoking by the time they gave birth in 2011.
Colorado’s worst placement in the prenatal and baby health category was a 37th-place ranking for percentage of babies born weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces or less in 2010: 8.8 percent. In 2011, 5.8 percent of babies born to women who participated in any B4 Babies programming were underweight, a rate similar to the general population in Mesa County. That’s an improvement from 6 to 7.5 percent in recent years and 3 percentage points lower than the state average in 2011.
“I’m not sure yet” why baby weights are up locally, Sievers said. “The smoking (cessation) certainly is a huge factor in that. It’s been shown that smoking during pregnancy does reduce the birth weight of your baby.”
Children and adolescents in Colorado both had their grades lowered by having high percentages of uninsured young people. In 2011, 8.6 percent of kids were uninsured and 11.3 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds were uninsured, according to the report.
Teens received a boost in their grade from having the nation’s best rate of high school-age condom use and fourth-place finishes for vigorous exercise participation and fruit consumption. Meanwhile, Colorado children, who were defined in varying age categories throughout the report card, fell short in the categories of preventative dental care and participation in vigorous exercise. The highest of the six rankings used to determine Colorado kids’ grade was a 19th-place finish in the percentage of families (23.1 percent in 2011) living below the federal poverty level.
Colorado’s grade for adults was helped by the state having the nation’s lowest rate of obesity and highest rate of adult participation in physical activity, plus the nation’s second-lowest rate of adults with high blood pressure and diabetes.
Among the 10 indicators for 18- to 64-year-olds, Colorado’s worst ranking was at number 36 for binge drinking. Twenty-three percent of Colorado adults reported drinking four or more alcoholic beverages (five or more for men) on at least one occasion in the past month when surveyed in 2011.
Seniors placed in the top five states for physical activity, getting a flu shot within the past year, and for having a small percentage who described their health as “not good” for eight or more days in the past month.