Federal Report Finds Health Conditions Mixed for Nation’s Youth

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Recently, the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics released the 2012 edition of its annual America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being report. 

The national data set notes that the nation’s infant mortality rate, preterm birth rate and adolescent birthrates have all declined, with births to adolescents dropping from 20 births per 1,000 females ages 15-17 in 2009 to just 17 births per 1,000 girls in 2010. Additionally, the percentage of infants born preterm (before 37 weeks) decreased from 12.2 percent of all births in 2009 to 12 percent of all births in 2010, according to the report’s preliminary data. 

America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2012The report also states that math scores for 4th and 8th graders have improved, increasing a percentage point from 2009 to last year. Data also indicates that there are less youths that are not employed or enrolled in high school or college, a population dwindling from 9 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2011. 

Fewer youth are the victims of violent crime, the report states. While the proportion of juveniles ages 12-17 that were the victims of serious violent crimes stood at 11 per 1,000 youths in 2009, that figure fell to 7 youths per 1,000 in 2010.

 The data also indicates a decrease in the number of juveniles living in homes classified as “food insecure” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- decreasing a percentage point from 2009 to 2010 -- as well as an increase in meningococcal vaccination coverage for youths ages 13-17, which expanded from 12 percent in 2006 to 63 percent in 2010. 

A decrease in the percentage of juveniles ages 6 and under living in a home with someone who regularly smoked was also noted, falling from 8.4 percent in 2005 to 6.1 percent five years later. 

Other data points toward worsening conditions for the nation’s youth. According to the report, the percentage of juveniles living with at least one full-time, year-round employed parent dropped a percentage point from 2009 to 2010, while the proportion of juveniles living in poverty jumped from 21 percent in 2009 to 22 percent in 2010. 

Additionally, researchers noted a sharp increase in the number of children living in counties in which air pollution was above allowable levels - a percentage that leaped from 59 percent in 2009 to 67 percent just one year later.