A new report on the health of U.S. children is generally positive. Infant deaths, preterm births, abuse, violent crime and teen births have all decreased. Unfortunately more kids are living in poverty while asthma and obesity rates have increased.
The report, entitled America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2012, was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The report compiled recently released federal statistics on family environment, economic factors, health care, physical safety, behavior, education, social environment and the general health of American children and teens.
According to Alan E. Guttmacher, MD, Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the report has some very good news in regards to newborns as "fewer infants were born preterm and fewer died in the first year of life." Preterm birth rates dropped .2 percentage points, from 12.2 percent in 2009 to 12 percent in 2010, while infant deaths decreased from 6.4 per 1,000 births in 2009 to 6.1 per 1,000 in 2010.
The good news continues as the newborn becomes a teen. More children are being vaccinated for meningitis, from just 12 percent in 2006 to 63 percent in 2010. Fewer children are also living in "food insecure" households.
"Food insecurity" is when a household may not have enough access to nutritious or safe food. Food insecure households may also not have enough food to feed the entire family. For 2010, 22 percent of children were living in such households, down from 23 percent in 2009.
Fewer children are living in homes with smokers, down from 8.4 percent in 2005 to 6.1 percent in 2010. Additionally, fewer teens are victims of violent crime, down from 11 per 1,000 in 2009 to seven per 1,000 in 2010.
As previously reported by Medical Daily, teen birth rates have decreased to 17 per 1,000 in 2010.
For American children in school, the report is rather positive. The average math scores for 4th and 8th graders increased by one point from 2009 to 2011. The number of teens, between the ages of 16 and 19 who were not enrolled in high school or college or were unemployed decreased, from 9 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2011.
Unfortunately, there are some concerns raised in the report. Obesity rates for children remained at 18 percent for 2009 and 2010, while that is down one percentage point from 2007 and 2008.
Asthma rates were pretty much identical, from 9.6 percent in 2009 to 9.4 percent in 2010. This could increase in the future as more children are living in areas with above allowable levels, from 59 percent in 2009 up to 67 percent in 2010.
More children are also living in poverty, from 21 percent in 2009 to 22 percent in 2010. The report also raises an alarming issue that more younger children are living in poverty, with one in four children aged five or younger living in poverty.
While there are many positive trends, asthma and obesity are still a concern for the experts. Better improvements in regards to addressing childhood obesity and reducing air pollution are needed while the economic situation may improve in the future which may lead to a decrease in the number of children living in poverty.