Health Indicators for Children Mostly Improved Nationwide, Kids Count Survey Finds
Health indicators for children mostly improved nationwide during the 1990s, according to the 2002 Kids Count report released yesterday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. USA Today reports that researchers compared "well-being" indicators such as infant mortality, teen birth rates and child and teen death rates from 1990 and 1999 and found almost all states showed improvements (USA Today, 5/23). Nationwide, the teen birth rate dropped from 37 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 17 in 1990 to 29 births per 1,000 in 1999 (Kids Count Data Book, 5/22). The teen death rate fell from 71 deaths per 100,000 teens in 1990 to 53 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 (USA Today, 5/23). Infant mortality rates dropped from 9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 7.1 deaths per 1,000 in 1999, an "all-time low" for the United States. Despite the improvement, the infant mortality rate in the United States "remains worse" than most other industrialized nations (Kids Count Data Book, 5/22). The percentage of low-birthweight infants "def[ied] the positive trend," increasing from 7% in 1990 to 7.6% in 1999 (USA Today, 5/23). Researchers attributed the increase to a rise in the number of multiple births; 57% of multiple birth infants have low-birthweights, compared to 6% of single birth infants, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Although low-birthweight infants accounted for only 7.6% of births in 1999, they accounted for 66% of infant deaths that year. The report provides state-by-state data on 10 well-being indicators and compares the percentage of children without health insurance in individual states to the national rate (Kids Count Data Book online, 5/22). The complete report is available online.