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Indiana among worst states to have a baby, survey says

Indiana among worst states to have a baby

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana came in 40th in a new survey ranking the best and worst states to have a baby.

The WalletHub survey included all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and takes cost, health care, baby friendliness, and family friendliness into account.

Indiana only landed in the top 20 for the cost metric. Other lower scores brought Indiana’s total ranking to the bottom 25%. Indiana earned 41.9 total points out of 100.

Massachusetts ranked first at 69.31 points while Mississippi was last at 26.87.

Indiana’s worst rank was health care, at 44th out of 51.

The 17 metrics that determined scores included access to care for mother and baby, mortality rates, vaccination rates, access to food, rate of preterm birth, and low birth weights.

Jessica Marchbank is with All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington. She said this data is not surprising.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all. I will say I think that Indiana has some good public health programs that are intended to support people with a new baby,” Marchbank said. “I think they are most likely not reaching the people that most need those resources. The people most living on the edge of poverty or living in actual poverty.”

In terms of cost, Indiana ranks 18th out of 51. The state’s highest score took into account costs such as delivery, childcare, health insurance premiums, and newborn screenings.

Marchbank works with low-income families. She said despite costs being lower support is lacking.

“I can say with confidence people generally do not feel supported in a birth experience,” Marchbank said. “There’s just not a lot of medical or financial support for having a baby.”

Marchbank frequently works with the Hoosier Diaper Program, an All-Options initiative. She said a lack of access to diapers can create a ripple effect in a family’s economic stability.

“It can cost up to $100 per month per child in diapers. Without enough diapers, they actually can’t send the baby to child care or day care because you have to supply your own,” Marchbank said. “If they can’t send the baby to day care, that means mom or dad can’t go to work. They also end up having some pretty dire health consequences; not just diaper rash but infections.”

Indiana is in the middle of the pack when it comes to baby and family friendliness. The Hoosier state ranked 33rd out of 51 for baby friendliness, and 34th out of 50 for family friendliness because there was no data for Washington, D.C., family friendliness in this survey.

Baby friendliness included metrics such as parental leave, parenting groups, child care, and birth rate.

Family friendliness included family fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability and socioeconomics.

The general fertility rate dropped less than 1% in 2022 from 2021 according to the CDC; that is after a 1% increase in the fertility rate in 2021 from 2020.