Objectives: This study assessed long-term trends in US childhood infectious disease mortality rates (CIDMR).
Methods: We calculated age-adjusted and age group-specific US CIDMR (1968-1996) by using data from the Compressed Mortality File (1968-1992, 1996) and Multiple Cause of Death Files (1993-1995) of the National Center for Health Statistics and English data for historical comparison (1861-1964).
Results: US CIDMR declined continuously from 1968 to 1996, although the rate of decline slowed after 1974. Respiratory and central nervous system categories declined most; HIV-related deaths offset these declines somewhat.
Conclusions: CIDMR declined nearly 200-fold between 1861 and 1996, but no substantive improvement occurred after 1986.