WEDNESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- A new government report on
the health and well-being of America's children brings forth some
good news: Fewer teens are having babies or engaging in binge
drinking, preterm birth rates are dropping and deaths from injury
But, the same report also points to several negative trends.
More eighth-graders are using drugs, more children are living in
poverty and many kids are in homes where a parent hasn't worked
full time in a year.
"This annual report is an important tool for monitoring the well-being of our nation's children," Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Tuesday news conference. "Wellness has many dimensions, and each is critical to a child's well-being."
America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being,
2011, is the product of the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, which is a working group of 22 federal agencies that collects data on children and families.
Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said
during the news conference that "childhood is a dynamic
Many concerns have changed over time, Guttmacher said. At one
time, infectious diseases were major concerns. "Now if you look at
the lives of children, the role of injury has become more
important. It's not that injury is more common, it's just that the
other scourges of childhood have become less common," he
Good news in the report included:
The bad news includes:
A new section of the report features data on adoption. Adoption
is preferred over long-term foster care or care in group homes,
emergency shelters and orphanages.
Most adopted children thrive, but children adopted after the
first few months of life have disruptions in parenting that can
have long-term effects on their development and well-being,
according to the report.
In addition, 41 percent of all births in the United States are
to unmarried women. "That's more than double the percent in 1980,
which was 18.4 percent," Sondik said. These infants are more likely
to be of low birth-weight and live in poverty, he added.
Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, chairman of pediatrics at the
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that, "while
not earth-shattering," the report is important because it can guide
policies that affect children.
Lipshultz is particularly concerned that programs that benefit
children's health and well-being are being cut during the ongoing
"There is so much political rhetoric that gets bantered about that, without a scorecard, it's hard to sort out what the real facts are," Lipshultz said. "And kids don't vote, and so they are not necessarily a constituency that is a high priority among policy makers.
"If we are going to take limited resources and we are going to work to have the next generation healthier than the current one, the same old solutions may need to be modified," he added.
To see the full report, visit the
U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
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