Fewer U.S. Teens Having Babies, Binge Drinking:
WEDNESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- A new government report on
the health and well-being of America's children brings forth some
good news: Fewer teens are having babies or engaging in binge
drinking, preterm birth rates are dropping and deaths from injury
But, the same report also points to several negative trends.
More eighth-graders are using drugs, more children are living in
poverty and many kids are in homes where a parent hasn't worked
full time in a year.
"This annual report is an important tool for monitoring the well-being of our nation's children," Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Tuesday news conference. "Wellness has many dimensions, and each is critical to a child's well-being."
America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being,
2011, is the product of the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, which is a working group of 22 federal agencies that collects data on children and families.
Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said
during the news conference that "childhood is a dynamic
Many concerns have changed over time, Guttmacher said. At one
time, infectious diseases were major concerns. "Now if you look at
the lives of children, the role of injury has become more
important. It's not that injury is more common, it's just that the
other scourges of childhood have become less common," he
Good news in the report included:
- Teen birth rates dropped, from 21.7 per 1,000 girls in 2008 to
20.1 per 1,000 girls in 2009.
- Premature births dropped from 12.3 percent in 2008 to 12.2
percent in 2009.
- Injuries among teens dropped from 44 per 100,000 in 2008 to 39
per 100,000 in 2009.
- Binge drinking among 12th graders dropped from 25 percent in
2009 to 23 percent in 2010.
- Infant deaths dropped from 6.6 per 1,000 in 2008 to 6.4 per
1,000 in 2009.
- Fewer children are living in areas of air pollution (69 percent
in 2008, 59 percent in 2009).
- Math scores among eighth-graders rose two points from 2007 to
- Math scores for 12th graders rose three points from 2005 to
The bad news includes:
- More eighth-graders are using illegal drugs, from 8 percent in
2009 to 10 percent in 2010.
- Fewer children are living with a parent who is employed full
time, down from 75 percent in 2008 to 72 percent in 2009.
- More children are living in poverty, up from 19 percent in 2008
to 21 percent in 2009.
- More children are living in crowded housing, physically
inadequate housing or housing that costs more than 30 percent of
household income -- up from 43 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in
- The percentage of children with asthma remained the same from
2008 to 2009, but steadily increased from 8.8 percent of all
children in 2001 to 9.6 percent in 2009.
A new section of the report features data on adoption. Adoption
is preferred over long-term foster care or care in group homes,
emergency shelters and orphanages.
Most adopted children thrive, but children adopted after the
first few months of life have disruptions in parenting that can
have long-term effects on their development and well-being,
according to the report.
- About 2.5 percent of children in the United States are
- 21.5 percent of adopted children are of a different race than
their adoptive parent. This varies by state, from 8.4 percent in
West Virginia to 42.5 percent in Alaska.
- 29 percent of adopted children have health problems, compared
with 12 percent of all children.
In addition, 41 percent of all births in the United States are
to unmarried women. "That's more than double the percent in 1980,
which was 18.4 percent," Sondik said. These infants are more likely
to be of low birth-weight and live in poverty, he added.
Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, chairman of pediatrics at the
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that, "while
not earth-shattering," the report is important because it can guide
policies that affect children.
Lipshultz is particularly concerned that programs that benefit
children's health and well-being are being cut during the ongoing
"There is so much political rhetoric that gets bantered about that, without a scorecard, it's hard to sort out what the real facts are," Lipshultz said. "And kids don't vote, and so they are not necessarily a constituency that is a high priority among policy makers.
"If we are going to take limited resources and we are going to work to have the next generation healthier than the current one, the same old solutions may need to be modified," he added.
To see the full report, visit the
U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
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