Objectives: This study examined trends and differentials in US childhood mortality from 1950 through 1993 according to sex, race/ethnicity, education, family income, and cause of death.
Methods: Log-linear, multiple regression, and Cox proportional hazards regression models were applied to the data from the National Vital Statistics System, the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, and the Area Resource File.
Results: Substantial declines in US childhood mortality have occurred in the past 4 decades, primarily due to decreases in mortality from unintentional injuries, cancer, pneumonia and influenza, and congenital anomalies. The overall declining trend, however, has been dampened by a twofold to threefold increase in the suicide and homicide rates among children since 1968. Male, Black, American Indian, Hawaiian, and Puerto Rican children and those in the lower socioeconomic strata were at an increased risk of death.
Conclusions: Increasing trends in mortality from violence, firearm injuries, and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome pose a major obstacle to continued declines in US childhood mortality. Reducing socioeconomic disparities and improving access to and use of health care may bring about further declines in overall and injury-related childhood mortality.