Sondik to Step Down as NCHS Director

April 23, 2013

HYATTSVILLE, MD – The Director of CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Dr. Edward J. Sondik, has announced that he will be leaving NCHS at the end of April.  Charles J. Rothwell, currently the Center’s Director of Vital Statistics, began as Acting Director of NCHS on April 1, 2013, as CDC searches for a permanent director.

Edward J. Sondik, PhD

Dr. Sondik started his career by studying electrical engineering for control systems, computers, and operations research while earning a doctorate degree at Stanford University.  In the 1970’s, he joined the National Institutes of Health to work on clinical trial policy for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  In 1982, he joined the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  Here, he held a number of positions, including serving as deputy director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, where among other duties, he oversaw the pioneering Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registry.  He also served as acting director of NCI for a period of time prior to coming to CDC.

Rothwell takes over after earning the distinction as a Top Leader in Federal Service as director of the Division of Vital Statistics at NCHS.  Prior to working with CDC, he served more than a decade as the first director of North Carolina’s Center for Health Statistics.  In addition, Rothwell helped develop the National Science Foundation’s digital government initiative and served on a peer review team for the Library of Congress’ National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.


Declines in Infant Mortality

April 18, 2013

Infant mortality is an important indicator of the health of a nation.  A new NCHS report describes the recent decline in the U.S. infant mortality rate from 2005 through 2011. Changes in infant mortality rates over time are examined by age at death, maternal race and ethnicity, cause of death, and state.  In 2011, the U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.05 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (based on preliminary data), 12% lower than the rate of 6.87 in 2005, but not significantly lower than 6.15 in 2010.

Infant, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rates: United States, 2000 and 2005–2011

Key findings from the report:

  • Following a plateau from 2000 through 2005, the U.S. infant mortality rate declined 12% from 2005 through 2011. Declines for neonatal and postneonatal mortality were similar.
  • From 2005 through 2011, infant mortality declined 16% for non-Hispanic black women and 12% for non-Hispanic white women.
  • Infant mortality declined for four of the five leading causes of death during the 2005–2011 period.
  • Infant mortality rates declined most rapidly among some, but not all, Southern states from 2005 through 2010. Despite these declines, states in the South still had among the highest rates in 2010. Rates were also high in 2010 in some states in the Midwest.

Strategies Used by Adults to Reduce Their Prescription Drug Costs

April 9, 2013

In 2011, Americans spent $45 billion out-of-pocket on retail prescription drugs. Some adults reduce prescription drug costs by skipping doses and delaying filling prescriptions; however, some cost-reduction strategies used by adults have been associated with negative health outcomes. For example, adults who do not take prescription medication as prescribed have been shown to have poorer health status and increased emergency room use, hospitalizations, and cardiovascular events

Turned on its side, this uncapped amber medication bottle had releasing its contents of an unknown cache of white, oval-shaped tablets.A new report from NCHS analyzes different strategies used by U.S. adults to reduce their prescription drug costs, by age, health insurance status, and poverty status, using data from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey.

Key findings from the report:

  • Adults aged 18–64 and those aged 65 and over were equally likely to have asked their doctor for a lower-cost medication to save money on prescription drugs (19.8% and 20.3%, respectively).
  • Adults aged 18–64 were twice as likely to not have taken medication as prescribed to save money (12.6%) compared with adults aged 65 and over (5.8%).
  • Among adults aged 18–64, uninsured adults (23.1%) were more likely than those with Medicaid (13.6%) or those with private coverage (8.7%) to not have taken medication as prescribed to save money.
  • Among adults aged 65 and over, those with only Medicare coverage were more likely to ask their doctor for a lower-cost medication to save money (24.9%) compared with those who had private coverage (20.1%) and those with Medicare and Medicaid (14.7%) coverage.

Percentages of adults who used selected strategies to reduce prescription drug costs in the last 12 months, by age: United States, 2011

Trends in Premarital Cohabitation

April 4, 2013

A new report from NCHS presents national estimates of first premarital cohabitations with a male partner for women aged 15–44 in the United States using the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).  Trends in pregnancies within first premarital cohabiting unions and differences by Hispanic origin and race, and education are also presented.

Estimates from the report show that nearly half (48%) of women aged 15-44 in 2006–2010 cohabited outside marriage as a first union, compared with 43% in 2002 and 34% in 1995.  The term “first union” refers to either a first marriage or first cohabitation.  A lower percentage of first unions among women in 2006-10 were marriages (23%) vs. 30% in 2002 and 39% in 1995.  The largest proportion of premarital cohabitations among women (40%) transitioned to marriage by 3 years, whereas 32% did not transition to marriage but remained intact and 27% dissolved.  Nearly 1 in 5 women in 2006-10 became pregnant in the first year of premarital cohabitation (and went on to give birth). The probability of marriage for these women within six months of becoming pregnant was lower in 2006-10 (19%) than in 1995 (32%).

Key findings from the report:

  • Over 1 in 4 women in 2006-2010 had cohabited by age 20; almost 3 in 4 had cohabited by age 30.
  • The length of first premarital cohabitation was longer in 2006-2010 (22 months) compared with 1995 (13 months).
  • Almost half of premarital cohabitations for white women became marriages by 3 years. As a result, premarital cohabitations for white women didn’t last as long (19 months) as premarital cohabitations for foreign-born Hispanic women (33 months), black women (27 months), and U.S.-born Hispanic women (25 months).
  • Between 1995 and 2006-2010, premarital cohabitations as a first union increased by 57% for Hispanic women, 43% for white women, and 39% for black women.
  • In 2006-10, 70% of women with less than a high school diploma cohabited as a first union, compared with 47% of women with a bachelor’s degree or higher.  Premarital cohabitations for women with less than a high school diploma were less likely to result in marriage by 3 years compared with those for women with a bachelor’s degree or higher.