Suicides and fatal poisonings increase as cause of child deaths, CDC says

Suicide and accidental poisonings, including opioids, increased.

May 30, 2017, 2:03 PM

— -- While the overall number of child deaths has decreased slightly thanks to progress in the number of infants surviving, the hazards for older children have been growing.

Suicide rates and accidental poisonings, including those related to opioids, have increased, according to a new analysis of state data on birth and death rates released in the medical journal Pediatrics.

For children between the ages of 1 to 19 years old, suicide rates increased from 11.3 percent of all deaths in 2013 to 12.1 percent of all deaths in 2014.

Accidental poisoning deaths have particularly increased for adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24. The researchers found accidental overdose deaths in that group increased 163 percent from 3 deaths per 100,000 people to 7.9 deaths. The ongoing opioid crisis is likely one major factor for this increase, according to the researchers.

"Drug-related causes account for the majority of accidental poisoning deaths," the authors wrote.

Suicide deaths increased by 14 percent from 10.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2000 to 11.6 deaths in 2014.

Specifically for older teens and young adults, ages 15 to 24 years old, motor vehicle deaths still accounted for the highest number of deaths. However, those rates have dropped significantly from 26.9 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.3 in 2014.

In 2014, suicide and accidental poisoning was second highest cause of death for teens and young adults, accounting for 17.7 percent of the deaths, according to the report.

Researchers examined data from birth and death certificates for infants and children from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, collecting in the annual review of state reports by the U.S. Centers Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Vital Statistics from 2013 to 2014.

In positive news, the overall number of live births in the U.S. increased by approximately 1 percent from 2013 to 2014, with 3,988,076 babies born that year. Deaths among children and adolescents remained stable dropping slightly from 24.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013 to 23.9 deaths in 2014.

Researchers also found a positive trend with slightly more babies surviving. Infant mortality rates reached a new historic low of 5.82 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014, down from a rate of 5.96 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013 and a rate of 6.1 deaths in 2011.

However, the U.S. still lags far behind other developed countries such as Finland, Japan, the United Kingdom and Greece in infant mortality rates.

"Nine countries reported an IMR (infant mortality rate) half or less than the U.S. rate in 2013," the report authors noted, adding that only two developed countries besides the United States reported an infant mortality rate of five or more infant deaths per 1000 live births.

"The higher U.S. rates have been observed for several years even with recent decreases in [infant mortality rates] among disadvantaged groups in the United States," the authors said.

The leading cause of infant deaths was birth defects including chromosomal abnormalities, disorders from pregnancy-problems.htm" id="ramplink_premature birth_" target="_blank">premature birth and complications related to pregnancy.

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