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- Definition: Number of deaths among children and youth ages 1-24, by age group and seven leading causes of child/youth death in California (e.g., there were 103 deaths due to cancer among California children ages 5-14 in 2015).
- Data Source: California Dept. of Public Health, Death Statistical Master Files; CDC WONDER Online Database, Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2015 (Sept. 2017).
- Footnote: Leading causes of death were derived from 2015 statewide mortality data using categories from the National Center for Health Statistics. N/A means that data are not available. Suicides are not reported for children under age 5. Data prior to 1999 are not available due to differences in California cause of death classifications.
- Measures of Deaths on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org provides county-level data on child and youth deaths in the following indicators:
Rates are presented for three-year periods. In order to provide comparable information across areas, kidsdata.org shows the leading causes of death among children/youth statewide. These leading causes of death are very similar to the leading causes locally and nationally.
- Rates of death among children and youth, by age, by age and cause (California and U.S. only), by race/ethnicity, and by race/ethnicity and cause (California and U.S. only)
- Number of deaths among children and youth by age and cause
- Rates of firearm-related death among children and youth by age and cause, by gender and cause, and by race/ethnicity and cause
- Number of firearm-related deaths among children and youth by age and cause, by gender and cause, and by race/ethnicity and cause
For detailed data on deaths among children under age 1, see kidsdata.org’s Infant Mortality topic.
- Child/Youth Death Rate
- Child/Youth Deaths, by Age and Cause
- Firearm Death Rate, by Age and Cause
- Firearm Deaths, by Age and Cause
- Infant Mortality
- Youth Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury
- Why This Topic Is Important
The death of any young person is a tragedy. High child and youth death rates also can be an indicator of larger system issues, such as community violence or problems accessing health care. Preventable injuries (e.g., from car accidents) are the leading cause of death among children and youth ages 1-24 nationwide (1). Among young children ages 1-4, the most common cause of unintentional injury-related death is drowning; among 5- to 24-year-olds, it is motor vehicle accidents (1). Homicide, suicide, cancer, heart disease, and congenital anomalies (birth defects) are other leading causes of death for children and youth ages 1-24 in the U.S. (1). The majority of youth homicides and suicides are caused by firearms (1).
Death rates from injuries, and overall death rates, generally are higher for boys than girls (2). Inequities by race/ethnicity also persist, statewide and nationally; e.g., among groups with data, African American/black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and youth have had the highest death rates for many years (3). Many fatal injuries can be prevented through environmental, behavioral, social, and legislative change (4).Find more information about child and youth death in kidsdata.org's Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2017). Leading causes of death reports, 1981-2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/leading_causes_death.html
2. Child Trends Databank. (2016). Infant, child, and teen mortality. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=infant-child-and-teen-mortality
3. As cited on kidsdata.org, Child/youth death rate, by race/ethnicity. (2017). California Department of Public Health, California Department of Finance, Population Reference Bureau, & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2017). About CDC's injury center. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/about/index.html
- How Children Are Faring
In 2013-15, the death rate among California children and young adults ages 1-24 was 30 per 100,000, down from 41.1 per 100,000 in 1996-98. California and U.S. rates have been on the decline since 2004-06, although California's rate has been consistently lower than the nation as a whole. Among counties with data, youth death rates vary widely, from 19.6 per 100,000 (Napa) to 77.6 per 100,000 (Lake) in 2013-15. Similar to the statewide trend, rates declined between 2004-06 and 2013-15 in 38 of 41 counties with data.
Young adults ages 20-24 consistently have the highest death rate (66.5 per 100,000 in 2013-15) when compared to other age groups in California, while children ages 5-14 have the lowest (10.2 per 100,000 in 2013-15). Since 2000-02, African American/black and American Indian/Alaska Native youth have had the highest rates of death among groups with data; in 2013-15, the death rate for African American/black youth in California (61.9 per 100,000) was about twice that for both white (31.6) and Hispanic/Latino youth (28.4), and more than three times that for Asian/Pacific Islander youth (19.5). Both in California and nationwide, unintentional injuries—such as car accidents, drowning, and falls—are the leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 1-24 overall, for all age groups, and for all racial/ethnic groups with the exception of African American/black youth, for whom homicide is the leading cause of death.
In 2015, there were 649 firearm-related deaths among California children and young adults ages 24 and under, with boys and young men accounting for the vast majority (591). Homicide and suicide are the most common causes of firearm-related death across all age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups with data. Overall, the statewide rate of firearm-related deaths among youth (4.9 per 100,000 in 2013-15) has decreased since 2004-06, and has been lower than the national rate since 2008-10. Still, disparities persist among groups; e.g., in 2013-15, African American/black youth died from firearm-related injuries at a rate (23 per 100,000) almost five times that for Hispanic/Latino youth (4.7), and nearly eight times that for white youth (2.9).
- Policy Implications
Most child and youth deaths are due to accidents or otherwise preventable causes (1). Public policies aimed at prevention, education, and support of youth and families can address these causes.
Policy options that could reduce child and youth deaths include:
For more information, see kidsdata.org's Research & Links section and Policy Implications under these topics: Infant Mortality, Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury, Cancer, Injuries, Child Abuse and Neglect, and Gang Involvement.
- Strengthening, enforcing, and promoting awareness of motor vehicle safety laws, including those concerning car seats, seat belts, distracted or drunk driving, and Graduated Driver Licensing systems (2)
- Preventing child abuse and neglect by promoting safe, stable, and caring relationships between caregivers and children; also addressing factors associated with child maltreatment, e.g., neighborhood economic stress and family poverty (3)
- Providing routine and accessible mental health screening and services for youth in order to address depression and prevent suicide; also going beyond the prevention and treatment of problems to promoting positive mental health (4)
- In accordance with California law, promoting school policies that foster a positive school climate (i.e., where students feel safe, connected, and supported at school), which is associated with lower levels of student violence and high-risk behavior, including substance use (5, 6)
- Addressing risk factors for gang involvement and violent behavior by strengthening families and schools, teaching students social and emotional skills, and improving community supervision and engagement of youth (7)
- Continuing efforts to ensure that all women, infants, children, and youth—particularly those with special health care needs—have access to quality medical care that is affordable, timely, comprehensive, continuous, culturally appropriate, and patient-centered (8)
- Supporting continued pediatric cancer research to promote advances in the understanding of risk factors and treatments (9)
Sources for this narrative:
1. As cited on kidsdata.org, Child/youth deaths, by age and cause. (2017). California Department of Public Health & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2017). Motor vehicle safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/index.html
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Preventing child maltreatment through the promotion of safe, stable, nurturing relationships between children and caregivers. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/CM_Strategic_Direction--Long-a.pdf
4. Murphey, D., et al. (2014). Are the children well? A model and recommendations for promoting the mental wellness of the nation’s young people. Child Trends & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2014/07/are-the-children-well-.html
5. Lee, B. (2016). Improving school climate through LCAPs. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, California. Retrieved from: https://www.strongnation.org/articles/165-improving-school-climate-through-lcaps
6. Morgan, E., et al. (2014). The school discipline consensus report: Strategies from the field to keep students engaged in school and out of the juvenile justice system. Council of State Governments Justice Center. Retrieved from: http://csgjusticecenter.org/youth/school-discipline-consensus-report/
7. Simon, T. R., et al. (Eds.). (2013). Changing course: Preventing gang membership. National Institute of Justice & National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Retrieved from: http://nij.gov/publications/changing-course
8. Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, & Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. (2014). Standards for systems of care for children and youth with special health care needs. Retrieved from: http://www.lpfch.org/publication/standards-systems-care-children-and-youth-special-health-care-needs
9. National Cancer Institute. (2017). Childhood cancers research. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/research/areas/childhood
- Websites with Related Information
- Child Safety and Injury Prevention Professional Resource Brief, National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health
- Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau
- Children’s Safety Network, Education Development Center
- Motor Vehicle Safety, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
- National Cancer Institute: Childhood Cancers, National Institutes of Health
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Safe Kids Worldwide
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Education Development Center
- VetoViolence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Key Reports and Research
- Accidental Poisoning Deaths—Mostly Drug Overdoses—Exceed Homicides of U.S. Young Adults, 2016, Population Reference Bureau, Jarosz, B., & VanOrman, A.
- CDC Grand Rounds: Evidence-Based Injury Prevention, 2014, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Sleet, D. A., et al.
- Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States, 2017, Pediatrics, Fowler, K. A., et al.
- Evidence-Based Strategies and Readings in Five Injury Topics, 2017, Children's Safety Network
- Keeping Kids Safe In and Around Water: Exploring Misconceptions that Lead to Drowning, 2016, Safe Kids Worldwide, MacKay, J. M., et al.
- NHPCO's Facts and Figures: Pediatric Palliative and Hospice Care in America, 2015, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Friebert, S., & Williams, C.
- Overview of Childhood Injury Morbidity and Mortality in the U.S. Fact Sheet, 2015, Safe Kids Worldwide
- Preventing Violence in California Volume 1: The Role of Public Health, 2017, California Dept. of Public Health
- Preventing Violence: A Review of Research, Evaluation, Gaps, and Opportunities, 2015, Futures Without Violence & Child Trends, Moore, K., et al.
- Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
- Report to the Nation: Protecting Children in Your Home, 2015, Safe Kids Worldwide
- Suicide Replaces Homicide as Second-Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Teenagers, 2016, Population Reference Bureau, VanOrman, A., & Jarosz, B.
- County/Regional Reports
- 2014 Solano Children's Report Card, Children's Network of Solano County
- 2017 Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- Community Health Assessment 2015, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Fresno Community Scorecard
- San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families, 2015, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- Santa Clara County Public Health Department: Health Data and Statistics
- The 23rd Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2016, Orange County Children's Partnership
- More Data Sources For Deaths
- California Health and Human Services Open Data Portal, California Health and Human Services Agency
- Child Trends Databank
- EpiCenter: California Injury Data Online, California Dept. of Public Health
- FastStats: Injuries, National Center for Health Statistics
- FastStats: Leading Causes of Death, National Center for Health Statistics
- KIDS COUNT Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Vital Statistics Reports, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics
- Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
- Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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