Kids' Health Data Trends Are Positive

Children, Kids, Child Health, Doctor, Disease, Sick
Fewer American babies died in the first year of life, and fewer teenage girls had babies, according to a study, which also showed that smoking dropped among eighth- and 10th-graders. More preschoolers ate a healthy diet.

Those conclusions from an annual report, being released Friday, showed a positive trend on the health, economics and education of some 70 million children living in the United States. Compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, it draws from research conducted across the federal government.

The best news might be a substantial drop in infant mortality. In 1999, the report said, seven of every 1,000 babies under age 1 died. That was down from 7.2 in 1998 after declining throughout the 1990s. The rate fell again in 2000, said a separate report also being released Friday, to 6.9 deaths per 1,000 babies.

Calling the reduction "a triumph," Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, attributed the improvements to better treatment of respiratory distress syndrome and a reduction in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, achieved largely through a campaign to put babies to sleep on their backs.

In another positive development, births among girls ages 15-17 dropped from 29 per 1,000 in 1999 to 27 per 1,000 in 2000.

Other positive trends:

  • More children were covered by health insurance, up from 87 percent in 1999 to 88 percent in 2000.
  • Fewer eighth- and 10th-graders smoked, though smoking rates for high school seniors were statistically unchanged. Last year, 5.5 percent of eighth-graders smoked, down from 7.4 percent in 2000; among 10th-graders, 12 percent smoked, down from 14 percent.

    Some measures of child welfare did not change. Poverty rates for children, the rate of immunization, and drug and alcohol use remained steady.

    In a special feature this year, the report found that in 2001, 19 percent of children had at least one parent born outside the United States, up from 14 percent in 1994.