Health, United States, 2013 explores the Nation’s health status; special feature on use of prescription drugs

May 14, 2014

Picture1The National Center for Health Statistics announces the release of Health, United States, 2013.

Health, United States is the annual report on the health status of the Nation, submitted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the President and Congress. The 2013 report includes a rich compilation of health data through 2012 from a number of sources within the federal government and in the private sector.

Each year the report focuses on a special topic of importance to current discussions in public health. This year’s special feature is on Prescription Drugs in the United States. Among the highlights:

  • In 2007-2010, almost one-half of the U.S. population took at least one prescription drug in the preceding month and 1 in 10 reported taking five or more drugs.
  • Prescription drug use in 2007-2010 increased with age, from 1 in 4 children to 9 in 10 persons aged 65 and over.
  • In 2007-2010, cardiovascular agents (used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney disease) and cholesterol lowering drugs were two of the most commonly used classes of prescription drugs among adults.
  • In 2012, adults aged 18-64 who were uninsured for all or part of the past year were more than four times as likely to report not getting needed prescription drugs due to cost as adults who were insured for the whole year.
  • Drug poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics among those aged 15 and over more than tripled in the past decade, from 1.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 1999-2000 to 6.6 in 2009-2010.
  • In 2010, 53.7% of physician offices, 50.3% of hospital outpatient departments, 58.1% of hospital emergency departments and 19.7% of residential care facilities had a computerized prescription ordering system.

Detailed tables and charts display health statistics trends over time on birth and death rates, infant mortality, life expectancy, morbidity and health status, risk factors, use of ambulatory and inpatient care, health personnel and facilities, financing of health care, health insurance and managed care, and other health topics. Just a few of the highlights from the 2013 report include:

  • Between 2002 and 2012, the birth rate among teenagers aged 15-19 fell 31%, from 42.6 to 29.4 live births per 1,000 females, reaching a record low.
  • In 2009-2012 nearly one-half of adults aged 20 and over with hypertension continued to have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • In 2011, there were 126 million visits to hospital outpatient departments and 136 million visits to hospital emergency departments.
  • Between 2002 and 2012, among adults aged 18-64, the percentage who reported not receiving or delaying seeking needed medical care due to cost in the past 12 months increased from 9.7% to 13.3%.
  • In 2011, there were 26.1 physicians in patient care per 10,000 population in the United States. The number of patient care physicians per 100,000 population ranged from 17.7 in Idaho to 41.1 in Massachusetts and 68.3 in the District of Columbia.

A variety of resources can be found on the Health, United States webpage, including the full report featuring a chartbook and trend tables. A special abridged edition, Health, United States, 2013: In Brief is also available as a companion to the full report. Trend tables are available as downloadable spreadsheet files for data manipulation or graphical analysis. Data trends may be more complete in spreadsheet files than in pdf files, as data are updated throughout the year. The Preface describes changes and additions to the current report. Major findings are presented in the Highlights. At a Glance Table is a data summary, useful when you need to find the latest data quickly. The Appendix includes data sources and definitions and methods. The Index  is a topical index with cross references to such topics as child and adolescent health, elderly population, specific race and ethnic groups, State data, and women’s health.

QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged 18–64 Years Who Have Seen a Dentist Within the Past Year

May 13, 2014

In 2012, the percentage of adults with a dental visit within the past year increased with increasing income. Approximately 44% of adults with family income less than 200% of the poverty threshold had a dental visit in the past year, increasing to 60% of those with family income from 200% to 400% and 79% for those with family income of 400% or more of the poverty threshold. The percentage of women with a dental visit in the past year was higher than men within each income group.


First Births to Older Women Continue to Rise

May 9, 2014

The average age of women at first birth has risen over the past 4 decades.  This increase is in part a reflection of the shift in first births to women 35 years and older.  Delayed childbearing affects the size, composition, and future growth of the population in the United States.  Increased health risks to older mothers, especially those 40 years and older, and their infants are well documented, first time older mothers are generally better educated and more likely to have more resources including higher incomes than those at the youngest reproductive ages.

A new report from NCHS explores trends in first births to women aged 35–39 and 40–44 years from 1970 to 2012, and by race and Hispanic origin from 1990 to 2012 (the most recent year for which comparable data are available). Trends in first births for older women by state are examined for the recent period, 2000 to 2012.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • The first birth rate for women aged 35–39 increased from 1970 to 2006, decreased from 2006 to 2010, and increased again in both 2011 and 2012.
  • The first birth rate for women aged 40–44 was steady in the 1970s and started increasing in the 1980s. The rate more than doubled from 1990 to 2012.
  • For women aged 35–39 and 40–44 all race and Hispanic origin groups had increasing first birth rates from 1990 to 2012.
  • Since 2000, 46 states and DC had an increase in the first birth rate for women aged 35–39. For women aged 40–44, rates increased in 31 states and DC.

State Variability in Supply of Office-based Primary Care Providers: United States, 2012

May 8, 2014

Primary care providers include primary care physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. Primary care physicians are those in family and general practice, internal medicine, geriatrics, and pediatrics. Physician assistants are state-licensed health professionals practicing medicine under a physician’s supervision. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced clinical training. The ability to obtain primary care depends on the availability of primary care providers.

A new NCHS report presents state estimates of the supply of primary care physicians per capita, as well as the availability of physician assistants or nurse practitioners in primary care physicians’ practices. Estimates are based on data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, Electronic Health Records Survey, a nationally representative survey of office-based physicians.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • In 2012, 46.1 primary care physicians and 65.5 specialists were available per 100,000 population.
  • From 2002 through 2012, the supply of specialists consistently exceeded the supply of primary care physicians.
  • Compared with the national average, the supply of primary care physicians was higher in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington; it was lower in Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas.
  • In 2012, 53.0% of office-based primary care physicians worked with physician assistants or nurse practitioners.
  • Compared with the national average, the percentage of physicians working with physician assistants or nurse practitioners was higher in 19 states and lower in Georgia.


Asthma Awareness Month

May 7, 2014

Illustration of person using asthma inhaler.May is Asthma Awareness Month and it’s important to recognize one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases.

Asthma is a common chronic airway disorder characterized by periods of reversible airflow obstruction known as asthma attacks.  Airflow is obstructed by inflammation and airway hyperreactivity (contraction of the small muscles surrounding the airways) in reaction to certain exposures.  Exposures include exercise, infection, allergens (e.g., pollen), occupational exposures (e.g., chemicals), and airborne irritants (e.g., environmental tobacco smoke).

Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. It is not clear how to prevent asthma from developing and there is no cure. Yet the means to control and prevent exacerbations in persons who have asthma are well established in evidence-based clinical guidelines.

3,404 people died of asthma in 2010, according to the most recent national data.

In 2010, 439,000 people were discharged from the hospital with asthma as first-listed diagnosis and the average length of stay was over 3 days.

Asthma prevalence (the percentage of people who have ever been diagnosed with asthma and still have asthma) increased from 7.3% in 2001 to 8.4% in 2010.  Also, an estimated 25.7 million people had asthma: 18.7 million adults and 7 million children and adolescents.

Children and adolescents had higher asthma prevalence (9.5%) than adults (7.7%) for the period 2008–2010. Females had higher asthma prevalence than males (9.2% compared with 7%).

However, data from the National Health Interview Survey show that asthma prevalence in the U.S. dropped sharply during the first nine months of 2013.

For more information on asthma:




Adverse Family Experiences Among Children in Nonparental Care, 2011–2012

May 7, 2014

A new NCHS report presents estimates of the proportion of children who have experienced selected adverse family events by the number of biological parents in the household, with a focus on comparisons among subgroups of children in nonparental care defined by caregiver type.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Children in nonparental care were 2.7 times as likely as children living with two biological parents to have had at least one adverse experience,and more than 2 times as likely as children living with one biological parent and about 30 times as likely as children living with two biological parents to have had four or more adverse experiences.
  • More than one-half of children in foster care had experienced caregiver violence or caregiver incarceration and almost two-thirds had lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem.
  • Estimates for children in other nonparental care subgroups were lower than for foster care,but still elevated above those of children living with biological parents.


Injury-related Emergency Department Visits by Children and Adolescents: United States, 2009–2010

May 6, 2014

Injury is the leading cause of death and a major source of morbidity among children and adolescents in the United States. The emergency department (ED) plays an important role in the care of injuries, and these visits often represent the initial contact with a provider for the injury.

A new report from NCHS examines nationally representative data on injury-related ED visits by children and adolescents aged 18 years and under in the United States during 2009–2010. Injury-related ED visit rates were also compared for the age groups 0–4, 5–12, and 13–18 years, as these correspond to the preschool, school-age, and teen life periods respectively.


Key Findings from the Report:

  • In 2009–2010, an annual average of 11.9 million injury-related emergency department (ED) visits were made by children and adolescents aged 18 years and under in the United States.
  • The injury-related ED visit rate was 151 per 1,000 persons aged 18 years and under, and rates were higher for males than for females for all age groups (0–4 years, 5–12 years, and 13–18 years).
  • The injury-related ED visit rates among persons aged 5–12 years and 13–18 years were higher for non-Hispanic black persons than for other race and ethnicity groups.
  • Leading causes of injury-related ED visits among both males and females included falls and striking against or being struck unintentionally by objects or persons. Visit rates were higher for males than for females for both of these causes.