Children’s well-being mixed

While the health of North Carolina children is improving along some critical measures, others highlight increasing vulnerability, a new report says.

The latest North Carolina Child Health Report Card, prepared by Action for Children in Raleigh and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine in Durham, says more than one in five children in the state were living in poverty in 2005, up 12 percent over the past five years.

And while the number of low-income kids covered by health insurance grew by almost half due to public programs like Medicaid and Health Choice, the percentage of kids overall with insurance fell by almost 18 percent.

The rate of young children age two to 11 who are overweight jumped almost 20 percent during the same time period.

Dental health care among children improved, as did environmental health and many accidental deaths, the study says.

However, the murder rate grew by more than a third and deaths by firearms were up 30 percent from 2000 to 2005.

Teen pregnancy rates dropped significantly among whites and non-whites over the same period.

But other risky behaviors among teens were still common in 2005, with more than one in five using cigarettes and marijuana in the last month and almost have drinking alcohol, the study says.

Several indicators remained unchanged over the five-year period, including infant mortality and immunization rates.

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