Local News

Child Death Rate Drops in N.C.

Posted September 18, 2007

— North Carolina recorded its lowest child death rate last year, continuing the downward trend of recent years, officials said Tuesday.

Statewide, 73.2 deaths per 100,000 children from birth through age 17 were reported, according to the state Center for Health Statistics. The rate is 2.5 percent lower than in 2005 and 17 percent lower than a decade ago, said Tom Vitaglione, chairman of the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force, which was set up by state lawmakers in 1991 to study the causes of child deaths and makes recommendations to prevent future deaths.

“We are pleased with the progress that has been made for both infants and older children,” said Vitaglione, who also is a senior fellow of health and safety with Action for Children North Carolina. “However, North Carolina still ranks about 45th among the states in infant mortality. Although we have improved to about 25th in the death rates for older children, we must resolve to do even better for all of our children.”

Both the number of deaths and the death rate decreased for all age groups, except for a small increase for children ages 5-9, according to the report. Task Force Executive Director Selena Berrier said officials are examining the cases in that age group to see if there are any trends or issues that need to be addressed.

Injuries remain the leading cause of deaths in children of all ages, the report said, but the number of unintentional injuries remained the same although the number of children in the population has increased.

“It is largely the result of increased appropriations and safety legislation passed by the General Assembly, the hard work of state and local agencies and the attentiveness of parents in protecting their children,“ Vitaglione said.

Infant deaths declined, including decreases in birth defects and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Deaths due to suicide and homicide also dropped in 2006, reversing a trend of increases in recent years. Likewise, there was a decline in firearm-related deaths, from 61 in 2005 to 45 in 2006.

“Though we are relieved to see these declines, these deaths are tragedies that we must seek to eliminate,” Berrier said.

In Wake County, 124 child deaths were recorded last year, 90 of which were among infants under age 1. Durham County recorded 46 child deaths, including 30 infants, while Johnston County and Orange County recorded 24 and 7 child deaths, respectively.

Because the numbers for each county are relatively small, the Task Force doesn't compute death rates per 1,000 children.

The Task Force will begin its annual study cycle to review the data and recommend new health and safety measures, Berrier said.

“The data present us with questions about why and how children die. Our committees are already searching for answers to these questions that will lead to recommendations to reduce child deaths,” she said.


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  • fiestysp Sep 18, 2007

    Like 2 weeks ago there were 3 different incidences where parents had killed their kids, how is it droppin? This year must count towards next year.

  • garnertoy Sep 18, 2007

    glad to see deaths down and not up

  • postracker Sep 18, 2007

    “It is largely the result of increased appropriations and safety legislation passed by the General Assembly, the hard work of state and local agencies and the attentiveness of parents in protecting their children,“ Vitaglione said.

    This makes it seem like government and nanny laws are responsible for the decrease. It also sounds like the state agencies are taking credit for the increased safety of automobiles, which is the largest contributor to the Unintentional injuries. However, if you look at the data over a longer period, it is fairly stagnent, with normal variations

    Unintentional Vehicle
    Injuries Injuries
    1998 297 186
    1999 276 154
    2000 275 172
    2001 262 171 2002 272 172 2003 271 162 2004 313 192 2005 273 155 2006 274 163

    Are the laws they have enacted really doing their job? Is the money allocated to various programs being spent where it will provide the greatest benefit to our children, or to benefit the politicians?

  • innocent bystander Sep 18, 2007

    Old Pirate--among minorites, the infant mortality rate for teen mothers is actually lower than it is for older women. Interesting, huh?

  • headlong Sep 18, 2007

    Geisha Girl...I agree with you!!! These teens need education before high school when so many are starting off Freshman year pregnant/active. They need education if she thought doctor's would not know by examing her they would find she just had a baby...now other teens will be scared to be found out and not seek medical attention which would drive these rates up due to complications or such.

  • OLD PIRATE Sep 18, 2007

    "As long as children are having children there will be a high infant mortality rate" a quote from a fine country Doctor in 1967... Our government created this monster and as long as it produces votes, they are ok with the outcome.

  • innocent bystander Sep 18, 2007

    Deaths from homicide account for only about 5% of the total number of deaths in this age group, so as bad as the stuff is that we've seen on the news lately, it probably won't have a big effect on the overall death rate next year.

  • skinnycow Sep 18, 2007

    Parr4246, I think they are going off of last year statistics not this year. This year there has been a lot of people killing children, mostly parents. I hate to see what the stats look like next year.

  • innocent bystander Sep 18, 2007

    "It is not about what man can do but what God does."

    If that's the case then why has God decided to kill only 30% fewer children and babies since 1990?

  • parr4246 Sep 18, 2007

    I find the headline hard to believe with all the childrens deaths that have occured in and around the Raleigh area in the last few weeks............!!