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Report Finds Big Disparities in Well-Being of U.S. Kids
Date:4/2/2008

Huge gap exists between best and worst states, with Vermont on top and Louisiana at bottom

WEDNESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- For American children, where they are born and raised plays a major role in their chances of getting and staying healthy and living to adulthood, a new report finds.

The report, Geography Matters: Child Well-Being in the States, from the Every Child Matters Education Fund, ranks each state according to how well they take care of their children.

"There exists a huge gap between states on a wide variety of child well-being indicators, especially between the bottom states and the best states," Michael R. Petit, founder of Every Child Matters and author of the report, said during a Wednesday teleconference.

"The state American children live in should not adversely affect life chances, but they do," Petit said. "How is it that a poor child in Vermont lives in a completely different world from a similarly impoverished child in Louisiana? It should no longer be politically acceptable to permit or simply ignore the vast differences in life chances that exist for children."

Almost 13 million American children live in poverty, Petit said. "Over eight million U.S. children have no health insurance and nearly three million children nationwide each year are reported abused and neglected," he added.

The report looked at 10 commonly recognized measurements of child well-being, Petit said. Most of the information was drawn from U.S. government sources and shows how the top 10 states compare with the bottom 10 states, he added.

For example, children in the lowest-ranking state, Louisiana, are twice as likely to die in their first year of life compared with children in the highest-ranking state, Vermont.

Children in Louisiana are also more than three times likelier to die between the ages of 1 and 14, and three times more likely to die between the ages of
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