Friday, July 14, 2000

Tristate statistics compared to the U.S.

Infant mortality an area of concern

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The state of Tristate children has remained relatively unchanged despite a healthy economy and 112 months of uninterrupted economic growth.

        For the past six years, The Cincinnati Enquirer has compiled the Tristate Child Index. It is a compilation of statistics in 12 categories from eight counties that are compared to national numbers to measure the well-being of local children.

        The Enquirer figured Tristate rates, compared them to national norms and assigned grades based on a 4.0-scale. The region graded a 2.6 in 1999, up from a six-year low of 2.3 in 1995 and '96.

        The most alarming of the statistics was the rate of Tristate children dying before their first birthday. That's the result of the region's historically high rates of teen pregnancy. Teen mothers tend to smoke, have poor diets and lack education about prenatal care.

        The Tristate's infant mortality rate jumped from 7.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1997 to 8.4 deaths. The Tristate's rate of infant death is 17 percent worse than the 7.2 national rate.

        The number of Tristate infants dying raised issues of economic disparity in access to health care, age, education and race, local health and social service experts said.

        The Enquirer's sixth child index also showed that in the Tristate:

        • Students drop out less than children nationwide.

        • The rate of child support collection is higher than it is nationally.

        • The area continues to grade poorest in juvenile violent crime, a trend juvenile court officials say results from reporting that often counts multiple charges for a single arrest.

        • Lower rates of Tristate children are abused and neglected, living in foster homes and receiving welfare. In Greater Cincinnati, 4.7 per 1,000 children are on welfare. The U.S. rate is 7 per 1,000.


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