Report: Milwaukee County health outcomes among worst in the state

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Milwaukee County ranks second to last among all Wisconsin counties for residents’ health outcomes, according to an annual County Health Rankings Report.

Milwaukee County’s neighboring counties are among the state’s healthiest, according to the report. Ozaukee County topped the list at No. 1 for both its health outcomes and factors. Waukesha County ranked second for health factors and fifth for outcomes.

The report released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compares counties on both their health outcomes — including premature death rates, low birth weights and the percentage of people who report poor health — and health factors, such as behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environments.

The report ranks Milwaukee County at No. 71 of the state’s 72 counties for both its health outcomes and health factors. It was trailed only by Menominee County, which came in last for both categories.

Milwaukee County’s premature death rate — defined as deaths before age 75 — was 8,100 years of potential life lost per 100,000 people, compared to the statewide average of 6,000 years. Broken down by racial group, the premature death rate among black residents was 13,200 years; 5,300 years among Hispanic residents; and 6,500 years among white residents.

Across the U.S, the reported length and quality of life for Native American, black and Hispanic residents are regularly worse than for whites and Asians, the report found. Data show Milwaukee County is no exception.

According to the report, 28 percent of children in Milwaukee County are living in poverty, compared to the statewide average of 16 percent. Of the children living in poverty in Milwaukee County, 50 percent are black, 37 percent are Hispanic and 10 percent are white.

Milwaukee County ranked last in the state for quality of life, with 19 percent of adults reporting fair or poor health, compared to the statewide average of 15 percent. Its low birth weight rate was 10 percent, compared to the statewide average of 7 percent.

While Milwaukee County’s health behaviors largely match those of the state as a whole, there were notable differences in its rates of sexually transmitted infection and teen pregnancy.

Milwaukee County had 1,010 newly diagnosed chlamydia cases per 100,000 people, compared to the state average of 424, according to the report. A group of community leaders and health care representatives this week called for an increased response to address the problem, prompted by the recent discovery of an HIV and syphilis cluster in Milwaukee that has affected at least 125 people.

Washington County ranked fourth for its health factors and outcomes.

Other southeastern Wisconsin counties lagged in the rankings. Racine was No. 61 and 62 for health outcomes and factors, respectively, while Kenosha came in at No. 59 and 66.

The top five counties for health outcomes, according to the report, are: Ozaukee (No. 1); Taylor (No. 2); Pepin (No. 3); Washington (No. 4) and Waukesha (No. 5).

The top five counties for health factors are: Ozaukee (No. 1); Waukesha (No. 2); Dane (No. 3); Washington (No. 4); and St. Croix (No. 5).

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