N.C. Women’s Health Report Card Includes Oral Health Measures
The good news: more women in North Carolina are being screened for cancer and infectious diseases, fewer women are dying from heart disease and stroke and the number of women who smoke has dropped substantially.
The bad news: barriers to health care are worsening for poor and minority women. About 16 percent of all N.C. women and more than 60 percent of Hispanic women lack health insurance.
Close to half of African American women are obese and among Hispanic women, high cholesterol has increased 117 percent.
These findings were announced July 25 during the launch of the 2007 North Carolina Women’s Health Report Card at the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh.
New to the report card this year are measures for dental health and mental health. Almost one-third of adult women reported no dental visits in the past year, a significant finding because recent research suggests gum disease’s possible link to cardiovascular disease and a higher incidence of preterm birth. That overall percentage reflects 26.6 percent of white women, 38.7 percent of African American women and 46.9 percent of Hispanic women who reported no visits to the dentist within the past 12 months.
In 2001, 26.9 percent of women, overall, reported no dental visits within the past year.
“This is our bi-annual effort to evaluate women’s health in our state,” said Dr. John Thorp, interim director of Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “North Carolina is the only state in the nation that regularly prepares such a comparative report on women’s health.”
Overall, the report card shows that minority women are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Deaths from diabetes and cervical cancer among African American women are more than twice that of white women. Minority women are also at greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, have higher infant mortality rates and less prenatal care.
Approximately one in five new mothers experience moderate to severe depression in the months following delivery. The 2007 report card also features a new section on women with disabilities and shows nearly one-third of all N.C. women are living with disability.
“We are pleased that women with disabilities are now included in the 2007 N.C. Women’s Health Report Card,” said Pam Dickens, women’s health coordinator for the N.C. Office on Disabilities and Health. “This data shows what we see in our work every day; women with disabilities face greater health challenges and often have fewer health resources than other North Carolinians. Women with disabilities, healthcare providers, and public policy makers must address access to health care and preventive health care needs for women with disabilities.”
Featured speakers at the launch included Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, Sen. Katie G. Dorsett, Rep. Verla Insko and poet Jaki Shelton Green, the 2007 report card spokeswoman. Representatives from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine attended the event, as well as UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry Dean John N. Williams.
“Women’s health is important to the whole family,” said Shelton Green. “As I speak throughout the state, I encourage my audiences to nag your wife to get a mammogram, help your pregnant cousin quit smoking, or urge your grandmother to get a flu shot.”
The report card is produced by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Women’s Health Research in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and sponsored by the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers and Talecris Biotherapeutics. Data was compiled from state health behavior surveys, statistics, disease reporting systems and U.S. Census Bureau reports.
Founded in 2000, the Center for Women’s Health Research serves the women of North Carolina and the nation by documenting the health status of women, studying models for improving care, evaluating promising new treatments and developing effective prevention programs.
The complete report card may be downloaded from the Center’s Web site at http://cwhr.unc.edu/n-c-womens-health-report-card/north-carolina-womens-health-report-card