Local News

State Child Death Rate Dips In 2005

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's child death rate decreased slightly last year from 2004, according to a report issued Monday.

Official figures gathered by the State Center for Health Statistics show a 2005 rate of 76.9 deaths per 100,000 children under age 18. The death rate had increased in 2004 after a decade of steady decline.

"Though the decrease is less than 1 percent, it marks a return to an overall downward trend in child fatality rates for our state," Jennifer Tolle Whiteside and Tom Vitaglione, co-chairs of the state Child Fatality Task Force, said in a statement.

Overall, 1,614 children and teens died in North Carolina last year, with about two-thirds of them under age 1.

Highlights of the data include:

  • The death rate remained the same for infants, but decreased slightly in all other age categories.
  • Motor vehicle-related deaths decreased in 2005 by almost 20 percent, but remain the primary cause of death for 15- to 17-year-olds.
  • The number of deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) increased slightly in 2005.
  • Deaths due to unintentional injuries declined overall, while homicide and suicide numbers increased.
  • There were 61 deaths due to firearms in 2005, up from 39 in 2004.
  • "Although there is some relief that the rate is continuing the downward trend that began in the early 1990s, our state still needs to be concerned for its youngest citizens," said Selena Berrier, executive director of the task force.

    Berrier said gun safety, for example, would be a focus for the group in the next year because of the spike in firearms-related deaths.