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Teen Birth Rates, Homicides on Increase, Report Shows
Date:7/11/2008

But deaths from accidents and smoking among eighth-graders are down, researchers add

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- The teen birth rate is up for the first time in 15 years, and homicides among teens are up for the first time in 12 years, a new government report finds.

On the plus side, there has been a drop in childhood deaths from injuries, and fewer eighth graders are smoking, according to the report, put out by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

"The number of children in this country has increased, as it has been increasing for some time -- 73.7 million in 2006 to 73.9 million in 2007," Edward J. Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics, said during a morning teleconference Thursday.

At the same time, the proportion of children in the population as a whole has decreased, from 24.6 percent in 2006 to 24.5 percent in 2007, Sondik said. "The trend is continuing, and we think it will reach 24 percent by 2020," he added.

Sondik noted that the proportion of Asian and Hispanic children in the population has increased. "In general, this population is becoming more diverse, as is the population as a whole," he said.

One disturbing trend among teens is the increased rate of births, Sondik said.

"The 2006 teen birth rate was up for the first time in 15 years," Sondik said. "This is only a single-year increase, but we believe it bears watching."

The birth rate among girls aged 15 to 17 increased from 21 births per 1,000 girls in 2005 to 22 per 1,000 in 2006. In 2005, there were 133,138 teen births, and, in 2006, there were 138,920, Sondik noted.

"A longstanding trend -- the increase in low birth weight infants continued unabated in 2006," Sondik said. The rate of low birth weight increased from 8.2 percent in 2005 to 8.3 percent in 2006.

One positive finding was that smoking rates have declined among some mid
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