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Overall Health of Children in America Mixed

Annual government report reveals positive, negative indicators of children's well-being

FRIDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- The overall health of children in the United States is mixed, according to a July report from the federal government on the status of the nation's children and youth, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009.

This year's report includes statistical analyses of several indicators of well-being. Overall, approximately 14 percent of children experienced a special health care issue in 2005 and 2006. These issues required prescription medication, additional services, special therapies, or limited the ability of these children to do things most other children can do.

In 2007, the rate of preterm births (12.7 percent) and low birth weight (8.2 percent) infants decreased slightly from 2006 (from 12.8 and 8.3 percent, respectively), but may indicate the beginning of a trend. The percentage of teens (ages 12 to 17 years) that had a major depressive episode in 2007 was 8 percent, down from 9 percent in 2005. Economic indicators showed that 18 percent of children lived in poverty in 2007, up from 17 percent in 2006. Although the number of children with health insurance increased in 2007, 11 percent of all children were still found to be uninsured.

Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, commented on the negative effect the current economic downturn could have on children's health. "You have to look at the history of what has happened during other recessions," he said, adding, "the history tells us that there will be areas that change."

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