July 6, 2011 -- Adolescent injury deaths have dropped in recent years, and so have percentages of childhood and preterm births, according to a new federal report on the overall well-being of America's youth.
The report, "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2011," says injury deaths of children ages 5 to 14 dropped from 6.1 per 100,000 in 2008 to 5.7 per 100,000 in 2009.
In that period, injury deaths declined from 44 per 100,000 to 39 per 100,000 among 15-to-19-year olds.
But not all statistics highlighted in the massive report are rosy. For example, a higher proportion of eighth graders used illicit drugs in the period studied, more children lived in poverty, 59% of children lived in counties where air pollutants were above safe standards, and the poverty rate for all children increased from 18% in 2007 to 21% in 2009.
Snapshot of U.S. Adolescents
Among key findings in the report:
- The birth rate of girls ages 15-17 was 20.1 per 1,000 adolescents in 2009, a decline from 21.7 in 2008 and 22.1 in 2007.
- The preterm birth rate (born before 37 weeks) declined from 12.3% in 2008 to 12.2% in 2009.
- Fewer 12th graders engaged in binge drinking in the years examined. Students in 12th grade who said they had five or more alcoholic beverages in a row at least once in the past two weeks dropped from 25% in 2009 to 23% in 2010.
- Adolescent coverage for the meningococcal vaccine went up from 32% in 2007 to 54% in 2009.
- About 10% of children (7.5 million) had no health insurance in 2009.
- 75% of children from birth through age 17 lived with at least one parent employed year round full-time in 2008, compared to 72% in 2009.
- There were 50.6 births for every 1,000 unmarried women between 15 and 44 in 2009; 41% of all births were to unmarried women.
- In 2007, 48% of high school students reported ever having had sexual intercourse; that dropped to 46% in 2009.
- Illicit drug use in the previous 30 days among eighth grade students rose from 8% in 2009 to almost 10% in 2010.
- As of 2008, about 2.5% of U.S. children had joined families through adoption.
- Infant mortality, meaning deaths before the first birthday, went down in 2009 at 6.4 per 1,000, compared to 6.6 in 2008.
- Obesity for kids 6 to 17 years old rose from 17% in 2005-2006 to 19% in 2007-2008.
- The percentage of 12th graders who smoke cigarettes remained fairly stable at 11%.
- There were 74.2 million children from birth to 17 in the U.S. in 2010, or 24% of the population.
- The racial and ethnic diversity of America's children has grown dramatically. In 2023, fewer than half of all children are projected to be white, non-Hispanic.
Adolescent Health in Perspective
Alan E. Guttmacher, MD, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, says in a news release that it was "reassuring" to see continued declines in preterm and adolescent birth rates.
Edward Sondik, PhD, director of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, points to "significant declines in infant mortality and in fatal injuries to teens" as being among the more interesting snapshots contained in the report.
The report's special feature on adoption says adoption is preferred over alternatives such as long-term foster care or care in group homes, emergency shelters, and orphanages. While most adopted children thrive, some experience disruptions in parenting that can affect long-term well-being, the report says.
The report was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a group of 22 federal agencies that collect, analyze, and convey data on issues related to children and families.