BALTIMORE, July 27 (UPI) -- A study of child wellness -- using data from 2008 -- finds New Hampshire ranked highest, as it has for most of 2000s, and Mississippi last, researchers say.
The annual "Kids Count Data Book" released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore says the rate of children living in poverty in 2008 was 18 percent -- 1 million more children were living in poverty in 2008 than in 2000, before the economic downturn.
Using all child well-being indicators, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Vermont rank highest. Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi rank at the bottom.
Using health data from 2000 to 2007 and economic data from 2000 to 2008, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Oregon and Wyoming showed the largest improvement. The same data showed Montana, South Dakota, Maine, Alaska and Hawaii had the largest drop in their rankings.
Improvements were shown in the infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate and teen birth rate, and the percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates -- but declines were seen in the percent of babies born with low-birth weight, the child poverty rate and the percentage of children living in single-parent families.
"Data from 2008 that was collected before the recession took hold shows economic conditions were worsening for kids," Laura Beavers, national Kids Count coordinator at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says in a statement.