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franklin county times

Life expectancy rating cause for concern in state

By Staff
It has become an all-too-familiar happening in the last several years: Alabama coming in near last place in a national ranking.
This week in a national report on life expectancy, Alabama ranked 48th out of the 50 U.S. states. Our life expectancy was pegged at 74.4 years in the Harvard University study that analyzed data from 1982 and 2001.
There are many things that go into life expectancy, and our Southern diet, obesity and lack of exercise are factors.
But State Health Officer Don Williamson pointed out that our low ranking was brought about in part by our infant mortality rate, which is one of the five highest in the nation.
The infant mortality rate statistic gets tossed around quite a bit. Just what is that statistic and how is it determined?
According to www.cdc.gov, it is the rate at which babies less than one year of age die.
According to the CDC, factors that affect birth outcomes are things such as maternal smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, stress, insufficient prenatal care, chronic illness or other medical problems.
In Alabama, despite repeated assertions from some that we are "doing just fine," infant mortality is high due to a number of factors, one being our mean income, which is barely above the poverty line. We have our share of wealthy people, but far too many of our number live at income levels that barely keep them alive.
That income level translates to poor or no health insurance, which results in poor pre-natal care and higher numbers of infant deaths.
We have a lot of good things about our state, and a lot of good people in leadership positions, but this national ranking should be a cause for concern.
Our leaders need to constantly work to find ways to encourage job creation and industrial growth, and look for ways to make affordable health care available to all. The after-effects of those efforts could end up being longer lives for our residents.

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