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This overview of women’s health in Indiana is far from complete. It is readily apparent from looking at the amount of material about women’s health issues in Indiana as a whole, compared to the amount of material about women’s health issues in individual counties, that more data are needed at the county level in almost every area of concern. More data are needed, especially about women’s susceptibility to the leading causes of death; about women’s participation in risky behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, overweight, and inactivity; and about women’s access to and use of preventive screenings.
Fourteen main points of concern and success stand out.
The number of incarcerated women has doubled in Indiana since 1990. This population includes an increasing number of mothers.
Births to teen mothers are declining nationally, but Indiana has 12 counties with a rate of births to teen mothers age 10-19 above the state average (28.2 per 1,000 females age 10-19).
Women in Indiana need to gain better access to prenatal care during the first trimester, as well as to reduce the number of babies born at low birth weight. Infant mortality in Indiana continues to exceed the national average. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy continue to be a problem in Indiana. Overall, smoking among women has been increasing.
The Indiana cardiovascular death rate exceeds the national average, in part due to high levels of obesity, high numbers of smokers, and low activity levels among Indiana residents.
Lung cancer has been increasing for females in Indiana since 1993.
Age-specific death rates for female breast cancer were higher for black women than for white women for all age groups in 1992-1996.
Indiana House Enrolled Act 1938 provides Medicaid coverage for women who might not otherwise get timely or adequate treatment for breast or cervical cancer.
Female colorectal cancer rates in Indiana are higher than the U.S. average and higher among blacks.
Primary and secondary syphilis is a problem localized to Marion County. It occurs predominantly among black women.
More than one-fourth of Indiana women smoke, making Indiana the fourth highest state for female smoking among the states and District of Columbia (2000 data).
Over one-half of all Indiana residents age 18 and over are overweight or obese, based on body mass index.
Twenty-five percent of Indiana women age 18-24 are uninsured. The insurance gap especially affects working-age women.
Better health care service would be possible if Indiana could reduce the number of Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) in the state.
Better access to mammography, Pap tests, and colorectal cancer screenings would affect the mortality rates for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancers, all of which have been declining in recent years.