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Kids see gains, losses

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American children are doing better in four measures of well-being but have lost ground on three others, a new study says.

The 2006 KIDS COUNT Data Book, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says the death rate for children ages one to 14 dropped slightly to 21 of every 100,000 in 2003, compared to 22 in 100,000 in 2000.

Measures for older children improved slightly over the same time period, the study says, with the teen death rate falling to 66 deaths per 100,000 from 67, and the teen birth rate dropping by 13 percent.

The high school dropout rate improved significantly between 2000 and 2004, dropping from 11 percent to 8 percent.

But in three other areas, children are worse off.

The rate of low-birthweight babies grew to 7.9 percent in 2003 from 7.6 percent in 2000, the study says, and the percentage of children living in poverty grew to 18 percent in 2004 from 17 percent in 2000.

The number of children who live with a parent who does not have stable, full-time employment also grew slightly to 33 percent in 2004 from 32 percent in 2000.

Several other indicators remained flat, including the infant mortality rate, the percentage of teenagers unemployed and not in school, and the number of kids living in single-family homes, the study says.

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