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Birth Rates Fall, As Do Death Rates in Children

Statistical report for 2008 also finds that injuries, homicide accounted for most youths' deaths

MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to the previous year, 2008 found birth rates falling in teens and women, preterm birth rates and infant mortality rates decreasing, and death rates for children and teenagers also falling, according to a summary of vital statistics published online Dec. 20 in Pediatrics.

T.J. Mathews, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Hyattsville, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from birth and death certificates from all states and the District of Columbia.

The researchers found that, from 2007 to 2008, birth rates fell in all women aged 15 to 39. The birth rate in women aged 40 to 44 increased 4 percent from 2007 to 2008 to the highest rate in four decades. The proportion of births to unmarried women rose from 39.7 percent in 2007 to 40.6 percent in 2008. The preterm birth rate fell by 3 percent, and the infant mortality rate fell from 6.75 to 6.59 infant deaths per 1,000 live births from 2007 to 2008. Crude death rates for youths aged 1 to 19 fell by 5.5 percent. Unintentional injuries and homicides accounted for 51.2 percent of deaths of children and adolescents in 2008.

"Vital statistics remain a valuable tool for monitoring the health of the U.S. population. Efforts to speed up data receipt and processing are ongoing," the authors conclude.

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