Study: Mississippi ranked worst state to have a baby

Study: Mississippi ranked worst state to have a baby
One in seven Mississippi babies is born prematurely according to the State Health Department. (SOURCE: WLBT)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi has landed at the bottom of a new list -- as the worst state to have a baby.

The WalletHub study takes into consideration everything from access to care to average infant-care costs.

Mississippi’s March of Dimes wasn’t surprised to see the state get the ranking as worst state to have a baby.

“We’re trying but we’re going to have to try harder," said Mississippi March of Dimes Director of Maternal and Child Health Wengora Thompson.

Let’s talk about what the state is doing to combat the problems for expectant mothers and their babies. One of them is the Baby and Me-Tobacco Free program being piloted by the state Department of Health.

“Women are going through a smoking cessation course," explained Thompson. "They’re receiving a diaper voucher for doing it. and if they remain smoke free throughout their pregnancy and during the postpartum period, they receive vouchers. And we’ve actually seen positive results from that so far.”

More insurers in the state are also working with high risk pregnant women to have access to a progesterone medicine can help prevent preterm births. An area where Mississippi moms struggle is access to care. A March of Dimes study last year revealed a major gap in nearly half the state’s counties.

“They don’t have an OBGYN or a hosptial that has obstetric services,” noted Thompson.

This is a need where Wengora Thompson says telemedicine could help stretch the boundaries.

Some other states now have what’s called presumptive eligibility through public insurance so that expectant moms are able to start receiving prenatal care and doctors are still receiving payment while the state considers their eligibility for Medicaid.

And once the baby is born, a program called IMPLICIT is helping keep moms healthy.

“Screens mom at well child visits," Thompson said. "So, when mom brings baby to see the doctor, she’s screened for postpartum depression, for smoking, what’s her multi-vitamin intake...depending on how she screens...she’ll also get referred to services.”

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