Kids’ well-being gets mixed marks

Infant and child death rates have hit all-time lows in North Carolina, but a growing number of children are uninsured and more have been the victims of homicide, a new report says.

In their annual North Carolina Child Health Report Card, Action for Children North Carolina and the N.C. Institute of Medicine catalog the well-being of the state’s children based on a variety of indicators.

The news on many fronts is encouraging.

Teen pregnancies are down almost 20 percent since 2000, virtually all children received their immunizations in 2006, and the number of children receiving early-intervention services due to disabilities has grown by almost half between 2001 and 2005-06.

In other areas, however, the news is grim, with one in five kids in the state living in poverty.

The share of North Carolina children without insurance has spiked 20 percent since 2001, the study says, and percentage of kids who are overweight has increased dramatically in all age groups, with more than one in four toddlers ages 2 to 4 now overweight.

One in five kindergarteners suffers from tooth decay that is untreated.

And although infant and child deaths fell from 2001 to 2006, the number of homicides grew to 65 in 2006 from 43 in 2001.

Disparities along racial lines continue to exist on several fronts, with non-whites experiencing higher rates of teen pregnancy, infant mortality and low birth-weight.

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