Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) Logo

Washington, DC Has Greatest Decrease in Premature Births Since 2010

County Health Rankings path to good health

The 2015 County Health Rankings reveal that Washington, D.C. has experienced the greatest decrease in premature births since the launch of the County Health Rankings in 2010

The  Robert  Wood  Johnson  Foundation  and  the  University  of  Wisconsin’s  Population  Health  Institute  have  released  the  sixth annual County Health  Rankings.  The County  Health  Rankings show  us  where  we  live  matters  to  our  health and  provide  counties  with  an  annual  check­‐up  of  their  health. The  Rankings  provide  local-­level  data that  allows  each  state  to  see  how  people  from  one  county  to  another compare on  a  range  of  factors  that  determine  health— unemployment,  education,  community  safety,  diet  and  exercise,  and  other  areas to ensure  that  every  community  is  a  healthy  place  to  live,  learn,  work, and  play.  Learn more  at

The Institute for Public Health Innovation serves as the state-team lead for the District of Columbia for the annual County Health Rankings release. Although Washington, D.C. is not usually compared to other counties due to its unique jurisdictional status, this year’s Rankings reveal that Washington, D.C. has had the greatest decrease in premature births since the initial County Health Rankings release six years ago.

The Rankings also revealed the following national trends:

  • Premature death rates are dropping, with 60 percent of the nation’s counties seeing declines. But for many counties these rates are not improving – 40 percent of counties are not making progress in reducing premature death.
  • One out of four children in the U.S. lives in poverty. Child poverty rates are more than twice as high in the unhealthiest counties in each state than in the healthiest counties.
  • Violent crime rates are highest in the South. Violent crime rates, which affect health, well-being, and stress levels, are highest in the Southwest, Southeast, and Mississippi Delta Regions.
  • Having a job influences health. Unemployment rates are 1.5 times higher in the least healthy counties in each state as they are in the healthiest counties. During the recession, counties in the West, Southeast, and rust belt region of the U.S. were hit hardest by growing unemployment. Many, but not at all, of these counties have seen their unemployment rates drop since the recession ended in 2010.

Stay tuned for an upcoming event hosted by the Institute for Public Health Innovation and Washington Parks & People in early May 2015 to explore how a variety of factors influence opportunities for health in Washington, D.C.