San Diego Report Card Shows ‘Good News’ for Family, Youth Health
The number of children in San Diego County who smoke cigarettes or marijuana or consume alcohol is "steadily declining," but the number of infants with low birth weights is on the rise, according to the county's "Report Card 2001 on Child and Family Health and Well-Being." The report card showed "good news" in many areas of child and family health, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Among the report's findings:
- In 1995, 23.8% of ninth- through 12th-graders smoked cigarettes, compared to 23.1% in 1999. The percentage of ninth- through 12th-graders who smoked marijuana dropped from 26.5% in 1995 to 22.2% in 1999, and the percentage who consumed alcohol dropped from 44.1% in 1995 to 39.4% in 1999;
- The percentage of low birth weight infants in the county has risen from 5.6% in 1995 to 5.9% in 1999;
- The county's teen birth rate among girls ages 15-17 dropped from 37.7 births per 1,000 girls in 1995 to 28 births per 1,000 girls in 1999;
- Eighty-one percent of children in San Diego have health insurance, compared to 86% nationally;
- More than 9% of San Diego ninth- through 12th-graders attempted suicide, a rate that is higher than the national average of 8.3% for that group.
Dr. Nancy Bowen, former chief of the San Diego County Health Department's maternal and child health division, said the county's report card scores were boosted by the success of several infant immunization and underage drinking initiatives. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob added that Healthy Families has "encourag[ed] parents to get health insurance for their children" and has established after-school programs that help children avoid drugs and alcohol (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/30).
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