Recently I came across an article with some interesting statistics summarizing vital statistics in the US for 2010-2012. Much of the news is very encouraging. The average life expectancy of an infant born in the US in 2010 was 78.7 years. Said another way, this means that 50% of all children born in 2010 will live beyond 78.7 years. I find that amazing. Remember, that life expectancy includes all the children who die from terrible genetic problems, congenital malformations such as complex heart problems, and prematurity shortly after birth. Compared to our ancestors, we are incredibly sturdy creatures.
The 2010 data also revealed that the teen birth rate was at an historic low. I think this is great news. I love the teens I care for but I must say, most are not equipped to be parents. Success in our culture requires sophisticated skills that most teens do not possess. Since average life expectancy is now 78.7 years, what’s the hurry to have children? Interestingly, many mothers understand this, delaying childbirth to into their 30’s and even 40’s according to the 2010 data.
The 2010 data, once again, reveals that the great challenges to improving children’s health are the same as they have been for the past 50 years: reducing or eliminating the number of children who are injured or killed by unintentional accidents or homicides. Children are hospitalized far more often for accidental injury than any other cause. It’s our responsibility as adults to keep them safe from burns, choking, automobile accidents, drownings. and the rest. Lets roll up our sleeves and get to work. This time, numbers don’t lie.
Written by Catherine Wu and Paul Smolen MD.