Good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Child injuries are way down and so too is the teen pregnancy rate.
But the reports also show troubling signs in the areas of baby deaths and teen prescription drug overdoses.
Taken together, the seesawing trends suggest that parental intervention has as much to do with government oversight in better outcomes.
Let’s start with the injury data.
The new analysis shows that the child injury death rate has dropped about 30 percent in the last decade. That’s about 11,000 fewer deaths due to car crashes, drowning, poisoning and falls.
Motor vehicle crashes, in particular, were far fewer. The more than 40 percent drop may be due to better safety seat and seat belt usage, according to analysts. Officials also cited the graduated driver licensing laws as a possible lifesaver.
Overall, the child death rate varied by state. Maryland and Virginia were among the states with the lowest rates. Officials pointed out that there was a correlation with the number of safety regulations on the books and the lower death rates.
The same report also revealed that overdoses of prescription drugs spiked in the last decade. Almost double the number of teens died from poisonings, the majority from prescription painkillers.
Also, the percent of suffocation deaths among babies rose by more than 50 percent. That spike may be at least partially attributable to an increased number of investigations. Though, the findings are still sure to exacerbate the co-sleeping debate.
CDC officials reiterated the safety advice that many parents deem unrealistic or unnatural — bed sharing should be avoided.
They said babies should sleep alone in a crib, without loose bedding or stuffed animals and on their backs.
On the teen pregnancy front, another just-released CDC report found that the U.S. teen pregnancy rate has hit a historic low. That report found there were 34.3 births per 1,000 15 to 19-year-olds in 2010.
That’s the fewest number of babies born to teens since 1946. It’s also a 9 percent drop since the previous year and a 44 percent drop since 1991.
The decrease was recorded in all age, race and ethnic groups and across the vast majority of states. Only Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia showed little change.
Researchers suggest the drop might be most attributable to the increased use of contraceptives, especially condoms and birth control pills.
In other words, parents of both girls and boys are part of the equation in preventing teen pregnancy.
Do you talk with your teen about contraception? Drug use?
If your family has younger children, have you changed your habits in the car or with other safety issues? If so, how?