Mostly Good News in Report on Children's Health
The adolescent birth rate has reached another record low. Children are less likely to die in the first four years of life. And, elementary-school-age children are scoring better in math. Those are among the main findings of the just-released report, "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2005 " — which was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.
Schmalfeldt: There was a lot of good news to be found in a recently released report called "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2005 " as we hear from Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Alexander: This year's findings highlight the facts that the adolescent birth rate has reached another record low, the death rate for children between ages one and four is the lowest ever, and young children are more likely to receive recommended immunizations, and fourth graders are scoring a little bit better in math.
Schmalfeldt: The report is the government's 9th annual monitoring of the well-being of the nation's children and youth. It was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Services, and presents a comprehensive look at critical areas of child well-being, including health status, behavior and social environment, economic security, and education. And although there was much good news in the report, Dr. Alexander said some areas still have room for improvement.
Alexander: Some of the things we're concerned about include the fact that the proportion of children who are living in poverty has increased slightly. That's something that we have very great difficulty in controlling. But also, concern that we have not made more progress, really, in the proportion of kids who are engaging in what we might call unhealthy health behaviors. These are the kids who are drinking alcohol, using illicit drugs, smoking cigarettes. The lack of much progress in these areas in this particular year, although there's an overall downward trend for some of these, is cause for concern because much effort has been directed towards these in trying to reduce these levels, and these health behaviors portend adverse consequences for children through the long term of their adult life.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Duane Alexander
Topic: Children's Health