Women and Health
Leading Causes of Death
The incidents of breast cancer have fluctuated over the past few years without a notable change. Breast cancer mortality rates, however, do appear to have fallen since 2010. Discouragingly, the percent of women over 50 who have received a mammogram in the past two years declined sharply from 80 percent in 2014 to 65 percent in 2016. The age-adjusted mortality rates for female breast cancer are about 20 percent below national rates.
Using data from HealthyMontgomery.org, rates for cervical cancer incidents also appear to be on the decline among county women, while the share of adult women who have received a Pap smear test in the past three years increased sharply to 94 percent in 2016. However, the data again shows sharp disparities by race and ethnicity, with African American and Hispanic women being nearly twice as likely as White and Asian women to experience an incident.
The birth rate in Montgomery County has continued to decline, from 13.7 per 1,000 women in 2010 to 12.5 in 2016 -- slightly above the US and state average. Hispanic residents have nearly double the birth rate of White residents (18.3 vs. 9.3 per 1,000), with the rate for African American women slightly above the average (14.5 per 1,000). Meanwhile, the birth rate among adolescents ("teen births") has fallen almost by half since 2010, from 20.9 to 11.2 per 1,000, with a particularly sharp decline among Hispanic residents. The adolescent birth rate differs dramatically by race and ethnicity, with the rate for Hispanic residents being more than 18 times the rate of White residents, while African American residents are six times more likely than White residents to have an adolescent birth. As a whole, the adolescent birth rate in Montgomery County is nearly half the national average and two-thirds the state average.
Mothers in Montgomery County delay the birth of their first child longer than the national average. Research covered in the New York Times shows that mothers in our county had their first child on average at the of 29.2, three years later than the national average of 26.3. Married mothers in the county have their first child at 30.9 on average (vs. 28.8 nationally), while mothers with college degrees have their first child at 31.6 on average (compared to 30.3 nationally).
Injuries, Drugs, Mental Health, and Suicide
Women in Montgomery County die of suicide at 28 percent the rate of men, die of injuries at 38 percent the rate of men, and die of drug-related events at 42 percent the rate of men. However, women are nearly 65 percent more likely to be hospitalized and more than twice as likely to visit the emergency room (ER) for incidences related to suicide attempts. Women are also 18 percent more likely than men to visit the ER for mental health-related issues. Overall, the county rate of suicide-related hospitalizations and ER visits are much below the state average.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
In August of 2018, the Montgomery County Public Health Officer declared a public health crisis due to rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, particularly for chlamydia and gonorrhea -- with rates reaching their highest levels in a decade. STIs can lead to long-term health consequences, including infertility. While these increases are in line with national and state trends, the increases in Montgomery County occurred at roughly twice the rate of the state's increase in 2017.