By Tom Wilemon | The Tennessean
The overall health of women in the state has improved to a grade of C, according to the Tennessee Women's Health Report Card.
The biannual report looks at data on reproductive health, leading causes of death, modifiable risk behaviors, preventive health practices and barriers to health. In 2011, the report card gave a women's health a grade of D.
Areas of concern include the percentage of women who smoke during pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, breast and cervical cancers in black women, heart disease and stroke deaths and the percentage of white women with modifiable risk behaviors.
One big bright spot is a 25 percent decrease in Tennessee's infant mortality rate. It dropped from 16.8 per 1,000 live births to 12.8 over a five-year span.
"The decline is real, persistent and likely to continue," said Dr. Katherine Hartmann, deputy director of Vanderbilt's Institute for Medicine and Public Health. "This improvement reflects concerted community, public health and prenatal care efforts around the state."
The report card is a collaborative project between the Tennessee Department of Health, Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Meharry Medical College, East Tennessee State University, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.