In a report released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Committee to Build a Healthier America, Utah children fared well in one category and not as well in another.
The report ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia on the disparities between children's health with respect to income and infant mortality. It also considers mothers' education level. The report shows those who are less educated have a higher infant mortality rate.
Utah, however, does well in that category, with an overall average of 5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. Utah's infant mortality rate among the more educated (16-plus years of school) is 4.0 per 1,000 live births. For mothers with less than a high school education, the infant mortality rate is 7.8 deaths per 1,000 born, according to the report.
In fact, Utah ranked second lowest in the nation in infant mortality, bested only by Maine.
Utah ranked 19th with respect to the gap between general children's health by income — those with a higher income in the household had better overall health than those with less income.
Overall, 10.7 percent of Utah's 738,594 children have less than optimal health, according to the report.
However, among the state's low-income children, 22.3 percent have less than health optimal health. Meantime, only 4.8 percent of those with higher income have less than optimal health.
New Hampshire had the smallest gap between incomes and health, while Texas had the largest.
"This vividly illustrates how much education and income matter to children's health," said Paula Braveman of the University of California at San Francisco Center on Social Disparities in Health.
Which is unacceptable, said Karen Crompton, executive director of Voices for Utah Children.
"Why do we accept that? We don't accept that for our own children; why do we accept it for other children?" Crompton said.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America is a nonpartisan group seeking ways to improve the health of Americans, according to a statement. The commission is investigating how factors outside health care affect healthy lifestyles. It will release recommendations for improving health in April of 2009.
Crompton said that will be great for the long term but doesn't address short-term needs.
"While we are solving it, there are some intermediate steps that need to be taken," she said.
Some of those steps include registering for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program for those who qualify, and early childhood education programs.