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Children's Health

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Mixed Report on Well-being of U.S. Kids

U.S. Government Finds Slight Decline in Preterm Births; Illegal Drug Use Stays Steady

Sex and Drug Use Stable

The incidence of illegal drug use did not change between 2007 and 2008 among teens, but reported drug use has declined significantly from the peak years of 1996 and 1997.

In 2008, 8% of eighth-graders, 16% of 10th-graders, and 22% of 12th-graders reported use of illegal drugs during the past month, compared to 15%, 23% and 26%, respectively, in these peak years.

The number of teens who report being sexually active has also not changed much in recent years.

During the 1990s, the percentage of teens reporting ever having had sex dropped dramatically from 54% in 1991 to 46% in 2001, but the number has remained relatively stable ever since.

The report revealed that:

  • In 2007, 33% of ninth-graders and 65% of 12th-graders reported that they had ever had sexual intercourse.
  • Overall, boys reported having had sex at the same rate as girls, but there were gender differences within ethnic groups. In 2007, 73% of African-American male teens reported having had sex, compared with 61% of African-American females; and 58% of Hispanic male teens reported that they had had sex, compared with 46% of Hispanic females.
  • In 2007, 62% of students who said they were sexually active over the past three months reported that they or their partner used condoms, up from 46% in 1991. Sixteen percent reported using birth control pills, down from 21% in 1991.

Kids With Medical Needs

A special section of the report was devoted to children with ongoing medical needs.

Overall, roughly 14% of children in the U.S. have been identified as having a chronic health condition that requires services that are beyond those needed by children in general.

Among these children, 53% had allergies, 39% had asthma, 30% had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, 21% had depression or other emotional problems, and 15% had migraines or frequent headaches.

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