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Mixed Results Found in Annual Report on Child and Youth Well-being

An annual statistical report on the well-being of the nation's children and youth revealed some good news - a decline in infant mortality, preterm birth and adolescent birth rates - but also found an increase in poverty and a decrease in secure parental employment.

According to a press release from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this year's report, entitled America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012, was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The report uses the most recently available official federal statistics to describe the family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health of America's children and youth.

Overall, the report contained both good and bad news about the nation's youth. On the good side, the infant mortality rate, the preterm birth rate, and the adolescent birth rate all continued to decline. Average mathematics scores increased for 4th and 8th grade students, the violent crime victimization rate among youth fell, as did the percentage of young children living in a home where someone smoked.

The report also found that in the last five years there has been more than a five-fold increase in the percent of adolescents who have received the vaccination that helps prevent meningococcal disease -- a serious bacterial illness and leading cause for the most dangerous form of meningitis.

The bad news includes an increase in the percentage of children living in poverty, and a decrease in the percentage of children with at least one parent employed full time, year-round.

The following is a more detailed report of the findings in this year's report:

-- A drop in births to adolescents, from 20 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 (2009) to 17 per 1,000 (2010, preliminary data)

-- A drop in the proportion of infants born before 37 weeks' gestation (preterm), from 12.2 percent (2009) to 12.0 percent (2010, preliminary data)

-- A drop in deaths before the first birthday, from 6.4 per 1,000 births (2009) to 6.1 per 1,000 births (2010, preliminary data)

-- A drop in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years of age living with at least one parent employed year round full time, from 72 percent (2009) to 71 percent (2010)

-- A rise in the proportion of children from birth to 17 years of age living in poverty, from 21 percent (2009) to 22 percent (2010)

-- A drop in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years of age living in households classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as food insecure, from 23 percent (2009) to 22 percent (2010)

-- An increase in vaccination coverage with one dose or more of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for adolescents ages 13 -17, from 12 percent (2006) to 63 -- percent (2010)

-- A drop in the proportion of youth ages 12-17 who were victims of serious violent crimes, from 11 per 1,000 youth ages 12-17 (2009) to 7 per 1,000 (2010)

-- A drop in the percentage of children, birth to 6 years of age, living in a home where someone smoked regularly, from 8.4 percent (2005) to 6.1 percent (2010)

-- An increase of one point in the average mathematics scores for both 4th and 8th graders from 2009 to 2011

-- A drop in the percentage of youth ages 16-19 neither enrolled in high school or college nor working, from 9 percent (2010) to 8 percent (2011)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)is the nation's medical research agency and includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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