U.S. News & World Report researchers for the first time have ranked the "50 Healthiest Counties for Kids," a list that identifies safe, child-friendly communities across the United States.
Released as part of U.S. News' "Best Children's Hospitals of 2013" list, the report considered data from 1,200 of the nation's 3,143 counties. (Some counties did not collect health data or were too small to have reliable numbers, so they were disregarded.)
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute assessed the pediatric health of each county based on birth weights, infant death rates, poverty rates, injury-related deaths, and teen birth rates. Researchers also considered data on air quality, rates of uninsured children, access to physicians, and access to parks, as well as adult smoking and obesity rates.
According to the report, the top 10 counties for raising healthy children are:
1. Marin County, Calif.
2. San Francisco County, Calif.
3. Chittenden County, Vt.
4. Norfolk County, Mass.
5. Ozaukee County, Wis.
6. Middlesex County, Mass.
7. Boulder County, Colo.
8. Douglas County, Colo.
9. Montgomery County, Md.
9. San Mateo County, Calif.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics President-elect James Perrin, the new analysis offers a "really useful" tool to assess the health status of kids. "If I'm a mayor of a small town in Iowa, this analysis gives me a guide to what we should be thinking about," Perrin says (Sternberg, U.S. News, 6/11).
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