Let’s call it gestational math: The lowest rate of moms dying in childbirth plus low-cost deliveries plus fewer premature births plus more pediatricians make Maine the second-best state in the country to have a baby, according to a study by social media company WalletHub.

Only Vermont scored better.

At the bottom of WalletHub’s 2014’s Best and Worst State to Have a Baby: Alabama.

“We’re always trying to help consumers save money on big financial decisions and having a baby, unfortunately these days, is also a big financial decision,” said WalletHub.com CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou.

“We’re bringing to the forefront important costs that people who are thinking about having a baby may or may not have considered, putting the spotlight on the states that are doing a better job than the ones that are not,” he said.

Papadimitriou said this first year of the study used 22 factors in three broad categories: budget (cost of living, sales tax), health care (doctors, deaths) and baby friendliness (moms groups, air pollution). It gave equal weight to each category and used published figures from agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Amnesty International USA and the U.S. Department of Labor.


“Maine is just doing great across the board,” he said.

Factors in the state’s second-place ranking:

* Maine had the lowest rate of maternal mortality (1.2 deaths per 100,000 live births) for a rank of No. 1;

* It ranked third in both the average cost of conventional hospital deliveries with no complications ($6,507) and with complications ($8,228);

* 24th in average annual infant care cost ($6,760);

* 17th in the percentage of child care centers that are nationally accredited (11 percent);


* And seventh in the number of pediatricians (143 per million people);

Maine ranked poorly against the rest of the country in milk prices (27th) cost of living (39th) and Superfund sites per capita (51st).

“Which is a little bit surprising because you would think there’s a lot of milk production coming out of Maine,” Papadimitriou said. “The most glaring opportunity, where it’s ranking dead last, is on Superfund sites on a per-capita basis, seems like some pollution problems.”

Papadimitriou didn’t expect anyone to move across country as a result of the study’s rankings, but for those looking for jobs or a place to settle, it might become a factor, he said.

“The good news is there’s lots of data points out there about costs and quality and lots of groups looking at it,” said Jeff Austin, vice president of government affairs at the Maine Hospital Association. “What this kind of ranking demonstrates is rankings 2.0, drilling down a little bit to the way people actually shop. You don’t shop for a hospital, necessarily, you’re looking for cancer care or maternity care.”

WalletHub released the study in September in honor of it being the most popular month to have a baby. A bit of irony in the findings: Vermont and Maine may be the first and second best places to have a baby but, according to the CDC, they also tie for the second-lowest birth rate in the country. 

State economist Amanda Rector said she first flashed on Maine having the oldest median age in the country.

“We do have a very strong health care system in the state,” she said. “A lot of the environmental factors are things we do really well in. Despite the initial reaction of it being kind of funny, it does make sense. Anything to encourage more young working families in the state, I am all for.”

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