RICHMOND (WRIC) - The American Health Rankings are out and Virginia is not at the top of the list.
The Commonwealth is 26th among other states in the country, 37th for disparity in health status and 35th for diabetes.
The study also found the Commonwealth struggles with a high infant mortality rate, but the Virginia Department of Health is hoping to combat the problem with a new six-pronged approach.
2-year-old Aaliyah is Diamond King's third child and it was also her smoothest pregnancy.
"I had the proper nutrition," she says. "I did breastfeed with her."
King attributes the ease to being a part of children's health involving parents, a program that works with parents to make sure kids are healthy.
But not every family is as fortunate as the king's.
In 2011, for every 1,000 live births in the state 6.7 died - higher than the national average of 6.1 according to the Virginia Department of Health.
This year, the United Health Foundation ranks the Commonwealth in the bottom half of the nation for a low infant mortality rate.
State health commissioner Dr. Cynthia Romero says the state is committed to improving birth outcomes.
State health officials just set a goal to reduce the infant mortality rate to 5.7 by the end of 2018 using a six-pronged strategy.
"Oral health is one of those topics we assume is getting good education from every aspect of the community," Romero says. "But we're recognizing especially in pregnant women we don't emphasis that enough."
This new approach would promote good oral hygiene, healthy eating, breast-feeding and reducing early-elective delivery, allowing Mother Nature to take its course.
Implementation teams are already going across the state, visiting hospitals and doctors to ensure this new strategy spreads.
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