While advances in medical treatment and prevention of infectious diseases helped reduce child deaths dramatically over the last several decades, the child mortality rate in the US is higher than in many other wealthy nations. This brief outlines five strategies to address health and safety issues that affect the well-being of children ages 1-14.
The death rate for children ages 1-14 dropped by 14% from 2000 to 2006, to 19 deaths per 100,000 children.
Higher US Rate
The mortality rate for children under age 5 is nearly three times that of Iceland and Sweden, and twice as high as in the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Japan, Norway and Slovenia.
Of all children in the US, 15% are reported to have a chronic illness of which 1/3 are considered moderate to severe.
Drowning was the leading cause of death for 1- to 4 year-olds from 2000 to 2006; it was the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death of children ages 1 to 14.
Statements & Quotations
In recent years, researchers have widened their lens on childhood risks, paying closer attention to chronic childhood conditions and seeking strategies to instill healthy habits from an early age. This shift reflects data showing a significant increase, over two decades, in the number of children affected by chronic diseases and health impairments—from allergies and asthma to obesity and obesity-related diabetes.
In conclusion, while it is important to target specific accidents and illnesses, many children today are threatened less by particular diseases or safety hazards than by the economic and social forces that affect the communities in which they live. In the long run, efforts to reduce the child mortality rate will have to focus on health promotion and accident prevention, while also taking into account the larger forces that make some children more vulnerable to illness and injury.
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