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U.S. teen births down, early drug use up
July 6th, 2011
06:34 PM ET

U.S. teen births down, early drug use up

New statistics from the annual report on America’s children and their well-being point to some good news and bad news when it comes to the health of our kids.

The report, which is a compilation of statistics from numerous organizations, found that births to adolescents declined for the second consecutive year in the U.S. A drop in the adolescent birth rate, from 21.7 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 (2008) to 20.1 per 1,000 (2009, preliminary data) was reported.

And the preterm births declined for the third consecutive year, with a drop in the proportion of infants born before 37 weeks, from 12.3 percent (2008) to 12.2 percent (2009, preliminary data).

“It is reassuring to see continued declines in the preterm birth rate and adolescent birth rate,” said Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Guttmacher noted although the numbers were promising, the federal government did not identify reasons for the declines.

The report also noted that adolescent injury deaths have also declined, with a drop in injury-related deaths among teens ages 15-19 from 44 per 100,000 (2008, preliminary data) to 39 per 100,000 (2009, preliminary data). That number includes teenage driving deaths. When asked if new state teenage driving laws had anything to do with these numbers, Guttmacher could not speculate. “I think it’s a number of things, “he said. “We’ve also seen fewer 12th-graders binge drinking. It could be a number of factors.”

The report, known as America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2011, looks at statistics ranging from cases of asthma in children to their test scores in math. It was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a working group of 22 federal agencies that collect, analyze, and convey data on issues pertaining to children birth to 18 and their families. The report uses the most recently available major federal statistics on children and youth to measure family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health.

But there was a flip side to the positive numbers. The report also found a rise in the proportion of eighth-graders who reported using illicit drugs in the past 30 days, from 8 percent (2009) to 10 percent (2010) And more children were likely to live in poverty, and fewer children were likely to live with at least one parent working year round, full time.

“This report documents some significant changes in several key areas,” said Edward Sondik, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics “This annual report is an important tool to monitor the well being of our nation’s children,” said Sondik. "Each area we report on is critical to our youth”

This year’s report also included a section on adoption. According to the data, adoption is preferred by parents to alternatives such as long-term foster care, group homes, emergency shelters, or orphanages. The report also noted that although most adopted children thrive, children who are adopted, particularly those adopted beyond the first months of life, experience disruptions in parenting that can have long-standing implications for their development and well-being.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.