SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — According to a new study by WalletHub.com, Mississippi is the worst state for underprivileged children to grow up.
Researchers took many aspects of a child’s life into account including quality of education, food insecurity rates, and infant mortality rates.
Mississippi ranked last in education and health rates.
“Sometime they’re hard to read, but it starts with knowledge and I think it’s important for us to understand where we fall,” said Dr. Joann Wood, who is the chief medical officer for Baptist Desoto.
The study points out Mississippi has the worst infant mortality rate in the country.
Wood says a big part of that is women not seeking prenatal care.
“There is no woman in our county and in our state who cannot receive reimbursement for care, so there should be prenatal care.”
Wood said there’s a challenge getting that message out to mothers, especially if they’re younger and didn’t plan a pregnancy.
One thing Baptist Desoto is doing to combat infant mortality is reducing the number of elective early labor for patients.
Doctors at hospitals like Baptist Desoto say poverty is a common denominator when it comes to studies like this especially as it relates to nutrition.
Kevin Smith used to work in schools to help mentor and help children with decision-making, and he was funded by grant money.
He said the money is coming into the state to make a difference, but there is some disconnect tripping up progress.
“I feel like there is something we can do as it relates to government and education to make sure we are better prepared when we go into the school system, as it relates to our leaders and the people in the administrative roles to prepare teachers better,” said Smith.
Wood and Smith told us the study is disheartening, but leaves a lot of room for opportunity and improvement.
Mississippi and Florida were the only states ranked worse than Arkansas, and Tennessee landed at the 36th spot.
New Hampshire was ranked number one as the best state for underprivileged children to live.