Survey Finds Nationwide Improvement in Kids’ Health
Health indicators for children improved across the nation during the 1990s, according to the 2001 Kids Count report released May 22 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. AP/USA Today reports that almost all states showed improvements in "well-being" indicators such as infant mortality, high school dropout rates and teen births. However, one indicator -- the rate of low birthweight babies -- showed a setback. The findings were based on government data, and include the following:
- Infant mortality declined nationwide by 22%, but the rate remains "much higher" in poor communities;
- Deaths of children ages 1 to 14 decreased by 23%, a trend attributed to "advances in medical care and a general decrease in deaths from car crashes";
- Teen deaths by accident, homicide or suicide declined by 24%;
- Teen births fell by 19%, and teen pregnancy also decreased;
- Child poverty remained constant through 1997, but declined over the next two years and reached a 20-year low in 1999, when 16.9% of children lived in poverty;
- The rate of low birthweight babies rose from 7% in 1990 to 7.6% in 1998. The rise may be "explained by an increase in fertility treatments that has led to more twins and triplets and to older women giving birth."
The study also made state-to-state comparisons, rating states on all 10 indicators. The top 10 states, beginning with No. 1, are New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Jersey, Nebraska, Washington and Maine. States ranking in the bottom 10, beginning with No. 41, are North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi (AP/USA Today, 5/22).
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