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Decline Seen in Global Youth Mortality Over Last 50 Years

Smaller decline seen for young men aged 15 to 24, with injury being the main cause of deaths

TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Overall mortality declined substantially between 1955 and 2004 in children aged 14 years or younger and in females aged 15 to 24, but a smaller decline was evident for males aged 15 to 24 years, according to a study published online March 29 in The Lancet.

Russell M. Viner, Ph.D., from the University College London Institute of Child Health, and colleagues analyzed World Health Organization mortality data for youths aged 1 to 24 years from 50 countries, stratified by income. Between 1955 and 2004, the mortality patterns were studied by age, sex, and cause of death (disease or injury).

The investigators found that children aged 1 to 4 years had the highest mortality in 1955. Mortality due to communicable diseases decreased significantly for all age groups and regions, while all-cause mortality decreased by 80 to 93 percent for children aged 1 to 9 years, and by 68 to 78 percent for children aged 10 to 14 years. From 2000 to 2004, mortality for males aged 15 to 24 years was two to three times higher than for boys aged 1 to 4 years; whereas females aged 15 to 24 years had the same mortality as girls aged 1 to 4 years. Since the late 1970s, injury has been the main cause of mortality in males aged 10 to 24 years, while mortality for all other age groups has been predominantly from diseases.

"Adolescents and young adults have benefited from the epidemiological transition less than children have, with a reversal of traditional mortality patterns over the past 50 years," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed a financial relationship with Esai.

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