Iberville Parish ranks 48th of 64 parishes for health

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

A study released last week by the Louisiana Public Health Institute showed Iberville Parish ranked 48th of Louisiana's 64 parishes for a variety of health measures.

The parish's rankings were better for clinical care (20th) and health behaviors (28th), but low for morbidity and socio/economic factors (both 51st) and nearly at rock bottom for physical environment (63rd) based on information the University of Wisconsin compiled from various years of the last decade.

Air pollution and an absence of fitness facilities contributed to the low ranking of the physical environment. However, some 88 percent of Iberville residents had access to health food, compared to 92 percent for the nation and 62 percent for Louisiana as a whole.

Statewide, St. Tammany Parish ranked as the healthiest, and East Carroll as the least healthy based on such factors as smoking rates, obesity, binge drinking and teen pregnancy.

The report showed these findings for Iberville, compared to U. S. and state averages:

– Some 22 percent of Iberville residents are in poor or fair health, compared to 10 percent in the nation and 19 percent in Louisiana.

– Low birth weight was a factor for 11.6 percent of babies here, compared to six percent for the nation and 10.9 percent for the state.

– Some 21 percent of local residents smoke, compared to 15 percent for the nation and 23 percent for the state.

–      Some 33 percent of Iberville citizens are obese, compared to 25 percent for the nation and 32 percent for the state.

– Fifteen percent are heavy drinkers, compared to eight percent for the nation and 16 percent for the state.

– There are 26 deaths in motor vehicle crashes per 100,000 population, compared to 12 for the nation and 23 in the state.

– There are 587 sexually transmitted infections (based on the rate of chlamydia per 100,000 population), compared to 83 for the nation and 528 for the state.

– The birth rate is 70 per 1,000 ages 15-19, compared to 22 for the nation and 55 for the state.

– Twenty-five percent are uninsured, compared to 13 percent for the nation and 26 percent for the state.

– The ratio of the population to a primary health care provider is 1,316:1, compared to 631:1 for the nation and 863:1 for the state.

– There were 14 homicides per 100,000 population between 2001 and 2007, compared to one for the nation and 13 for the state.

– Twenty-seven percent of children live in poverty, compared to 11 percent for the nation and 25 percent for the state, and 49 percent of children live in single parent homes, compared to 20 percent for the nation and 41 percent for the state.

The full report on Iberville parish is available at www.countyhealthrankings.org/louisiana/iberville.

Home to  ”Cancer Alley,” a strip of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge that houses many industrial and petrochemical plants, Louisiana is found to have cancer rates that outpace the national average. For Louisiana residents, the most frequently diagnosed cancers are lung at 16 percent, prostate, 16 percent, breast, 14 percent, colon and rectum, 12 percent, and urinary bladder, 4 percent.  The five-year period between 2000 and 2004 brought 105,082 diagnoses of invasive primary in Louisiana residents, or an average of 21,016 cases per year. Specifically, Louisiana’s incidence rates for tobacco- related cancers such as lung, oral cavity, kidney, and pancreas are also higher than U.S. rates, which are preventable.