A Whole Lot of Coughing Going On

December 24, 2013

The old euphemism, “It’s not the cough that will carry you off,” mostly rings true, but the cough is still one of the leading reasons to head to a doctor, according to the 2010 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) conducted by NCHS. A cough is also one of the top reasons why people visit hospital outpatient departments, according to another NCHS health care survey, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (see Table 7 here).

NCHS data show that the cough is the most common symptom that makes Americans visit the doctor’s office (only “progress visits” and “general medical examinations” rank higher on the list of 20 principal reasons for visiting a physician’s office, according to Table 9 of the 2010 NAMCS Summary Tables).

NCHS’s parent agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, advises that covering your cough can make a huge difference in stopping the spread of germs this — or any — flu season. Not to mention – it’s the polite thing to do!


December 24, 2013

Wyoming ranks 41st in the U.S. in births to unmarried mothers (35.5% of all births) and cesarean delivery rates (27% of all birhts).   The state’s marriage rate is also higher than the overall U.S. rate (7.8 marriages per 1,000 population vs. 6.8 per 1,000 nationally).

However, among the ten leading causes of death in the U.S., Wyoming mortality rates are higher than the U.S. for the following causes: chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza/pneumonia and suicides. The state also has higher rates of mortality from drug poisoning than the overall U.S. rate.

Fact or Fiction: Is Nevada the Marriage Capital of the U.S.?

December 23, 2013

Las Vegas has earned – for better or worse – a reputation for quick weddings. The city came to be known as the Marriage Capital of the World as a result of the ease of acquiring a marriage license and the minimal costs involved. Las Vegas comprises a large part of Clark County, where the County’s website features a prominent page for marriage licenses.

So, has “the Vegas factor” been enough to position – and keep — Nevada in the U.S. lead for marriage?

According to NCHS data from the National Vital Statistics System, the Vegas factor certainly looks like it’s had major influence on the overall marriage rate in Nevada. While the state’s marriage rate has declined significantly since 1990, Nevada is still number one! The most recent marriage rate of 36.9 (provisional rate of marriages per 1,000 people performed in Nevada during 2011) shows that so many couples tie the knot in the Silver State that it ranked number one nationally in marriage rates – by a long shot. Hawaii ranked second with a marriage rate of 17.6 (due, presumably, to “the weather factor”).

Infant Mortality Statistics

December 20, 2013

A new report presents 2010 period infant mortality statistics from the linked birth/infant death data set (linked file) by maternal and infant characteristics. The linked file differs from the mortality file that is based entirely on death certificate data.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • The U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.14 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010, 4 percent lower than the rate of 6.39 in 2009. The number of infant deaths was 24,572 in 2010, a decline of 1,836 infant deaths from 2009.
  • From 2009 to 2010, the infant mortality rate declined 8% for non-Hispanic black mothers to 11.46 and 3% for non-Hispanic white mothers to 5.18. Asian or Pacific Islander mothers had the lowest rate in 2010 (4.27).
  • From 2009 to 2010, the neonatal mortality rate declined by 3% to 4.05 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births, while the postneonatal mortality rate declined 5% to 2.10.
  • In 2010, infants born at 37-38 weeks of gestation (early term) had infant mortality rates that were 62% higher than those born at 39-41 weeks of gestation.
  • For multiple births, the infant mortality rate was 25.41, almost five times the rate of 5.45 for singleton births.
  • The three leading causes of infant death – congenital malformations, low birthweight, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – accounted for 46% of all infant deaths. In 2010, 35.2 percent of infant deaths were “preterm-related”.

Fathers’ Involvement With Their Children

December 20, 2013

A new NCHS report measures fathers’ involvement with their children. Father involvement is measured by how often a man participated in a set of activities in the last 4 weeks with children who were living with him and with children who were living apart from him. Involvement is measured separately for children aged 0–4 years and children aged 5–18 years. Increased involvement of fathers in their children’s lives has been associated with a range of positive outcomes for the children.

13820_loresKey Findings from the Report:

  • In 2006–2010, about 38% (23.5 million) of men aged 15–44 were living with one or more children, and about 12% (7.5 million) were living apart from one or more of their biological or adopted children.
  • Non-Hispanic white men aged 15–44 had the largest difference between those with coresidential children (37%) and those with noncoresidential children (8.2%). The difference was smallest among non-Hispanic black men, with 33% having coresidential children and 24% having noncoresidential children. Among Hispanic men, more than twice as many had coresidential children (44%) than had noncoresidential children (18%).
  • In general and as expected, a higher percentage of fathers aged 15–44 who lived with their children under age 5 participated in activities with their children more frequently than fathers who lived apart from their children. Similarly, fathers with noncoresidential children were more likely to not have done the activity at all in the last 4 weeks compared with fathers with coresidential children. The magnitude of the differences between coresidential and noncoresidential fathers varied by activity. Differences also were seen by demographic characteristics within groups of coresidential and noncoresidential fathers.


December 19, 2013

Vermont has the lowest preterm birth rate in the country (8.8% of all births) and a significantly lower rate than the U.S. as a whole (11.7%). The state’s teen birth rate is also lower than the overall U.S. rate (16.8% vs. 31.3%).  Vermont has the 10th lowest low birthweight rate in the U.S.

However, among the ten leading causes of death in the U.S., Vermont has mortality rates that are higher than the U.S. rate for the following causes: cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, accidents and suicide. The state also has higher rates of firearm deaths than the overall U.S. rate.

Homes with only Wireless Telephones Continues to Grow

December 19, 2013

Two new reports on wireless telephones show that percentage of adults and children living in households that do not have a landline telephone but have at least one wireless telephone have gone up. 

The first report shows preliminary results from the January–June 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) on wireless telephones. The report found that two in every five American homes (39.4%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the first half of 2013—an increase of 1.2 percentage points since the second half of 2012. In addition, nearly one of every six American homes (15.7%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite also having a landline telephone.

The second report shows state-level estimates from the 2012 NHIS on wireless telephones.  This report found the prevalence of wireless-only adults and children varied substantially across states. State-level estimates for 2012 ranged from 19.4% (New Jersey) to 52.3% (Idaho) of adults and from 20.6% (New Jersey) to 63.4% (Mississippi) of children.




Health Insurance Coverage and Adverse Experiences With Physician Availability in the US

December 17, 2013

Rates of private insurance and public coverage have been increasing. As coverage and utilization increase, a growing concern is the availability of health care providers to meet patient needs. Almost 90% of general physicians accept new patients with private insurance, but less than 75% accept new patients with public coverage (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid), and the proportion of specialists accepting new patients with Medicare or Medicaid is declining. While most studies approach access from a provider perspective, a new report examines the percentage of people who had each of three adverse experiences with physician availability in the past 12 months. Estimates were produced by age group and health insurance status using data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.

Key Findings From the Report:

  • In the 12 months prior to interview, 2.4% of people in the U.S. had problems finding a general doctor, 2.1% had been told that a doctor would not accept them as new patients, and 2.9% had been told that a doctor did not accept their health care coverage.
  • People under age 65 who had public coverage only were more likely than those with private insurance to have these three types of adverse experiences with physician availability.
  • Adults aged 18–64 who were uninsured were more likely than privately insured adults to have trouble finding a general doctor or be told that a doctor would not accept them as new patients.
  • Adults aged 65 and over with Medicare only were as likely as those with both Medicare and private insurance to have these experiences with physician availability.

National Study of Long-Term Care Providers Report

December 13, 2013

NCHS has released the first in a series of NSLTCP reports today. Long-Term Care Services in the United States: 2013 Overview includes general, descriptive information on the supply, organizational characteristics, staffing, and services offered by providers of long-term care services; and the demographic, health, and functional characteristics of users of these services.


The report shows that in 2012, about 58,000 paid, regulated long-term care services providers served about 8 million people in the U.S.

  • Each day in 2012 there were 273,200 participants enrolled in adult day services centers, 1,383,700 residents in nursing homes, and 713,300 residents in residential care communities.
  • In 2011, about 4,742,500 patients received services from home health agencies, and 1,244,500 patients received services from hospices.

Selected summary highlights from the report include:

  • Provider sectors differed in ownership, and average size and supply varied by region.  In all sectors except adult day services centers, the majority of long-term care services providers were for profit.  The largest share of adult day services centers, home health agencies, hospices, and nursing homes was in the South, while the largest share of residential care communities was in the West.
  • Provider sectors differed in their nursing staffing levels, use of social workers, and the types of services offered.  The majority of nursing employee full-time equivalents (FTE) in residential care communities, adult day services centers, and nursing homes were aides, while the majority of nursing FTEs in hospices and home health agencies were registered nurses.
  • Rates of use of long-term care services varied by sector and state.  Users of long-term care services varied by sector in their demographic characteristics and functional status.  Hospices, nursing homes, and residential care communities served more persons aged 85 and over, and adult day services centers served more persons under age 65.  Adult day services centers were the most racially and ethnically diverse among the five sectors.

Measures of Muscular Strength in U.S. Children and Adolescents

December 13, 2013

In 2008, the federal government released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which provide guidance on the types and amounts of physical activities that provide substantial health benefits for Americans of all ages. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes and helps control the percentage of body fat in children and adolescents. This report provides the first nationally representative data on core, upper body, and lower body measures of muscle strength among U.S. children and adolescents aged 6–15 years by sex and age group.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • There were no significant differences by sex in core, lower, or upper body measures of strength for younger boys and girls. In contrast, adolescent boys had higher values than adolescent girls on all measures of strength.
  • Adolescent boys and girls had higher scores than younger boys and girls on the core and lower body strength measures and upper body strength as measured by the grip strength test.
  • Adolescent boys completed more modified pull-ups, a measure of upper body strength, than younger boys. There was no significant difference in the number of modified pull-ups completed between adolescent and younger girls.