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June 17, 2009

This past February, NCHS released its annual report on the nation’s health, Health, United States, 2008. This report contained a wealth of information on a wide variety of health topics, as well as a special feature on the health of young adults aged 18-29.

This report can serve as a unique resource for reporters, pointing them in the direction of the information they need. At the bottom of each trend table is a “SOURCE,” which identifies the agency and survey from which the data came. This can be useful in finding more recent data from the correct source.

To access this comprehensive report, visit This is a large file, so it may take a few minutes to download. The report is also available in print format and can be requested through the NCHS Office of Public Affairs.

New report examines data from the National Nursing Home Survey

June 10, 2009

Today, NCHS is releasing “The National Nursing Home Survey: 2004 Overview.” This report examines data from the survey and highlights key findings related to the quality of care, including advance directives, emergency care, and medications taken by nursing home residents. The data highlights include the following:

• In 2004, there were 1.7 million nursing home beds in the United States compared with 1.9 million beds in 1999.

• The number of nursing home residents decreased from 1.6 million in 1999 to 1.5 million in 2004.

• Mental disorders were the second leading primary diagnosis among residents at the time of interview (22%). This represents more than a 20-percent increase over the 1999 estimate, when 18% of nursing home residents had a primary diagnosis for a mental disorder at the time of interview.

• Almost 9 percent of current residents had a fall reported in the 30 days prior to the facility interview.

• About 65 percent of current nursing home residents had at least one type of advance directive.

• In the 90 days prior to the facility interview, almost 11 percent of current nursing home residents had at least one hospitalization or emergency department visit while in the care of the nursing home.

For more information or to speak with one of the report’s authors, please contact the NCHS Press Office at 301-458-4800. The report can be accessed at

Estimates of Emergency Department Capacity

June 3, 2009

A new Health E-Stat from the National Center for Health Statistics provides estimates of emergency department (ED) capacity. The role of EDs has expanded over the past few decades from treating seriously ill and injured patients to providing urgent unscheduled care to patients unable to gain timely access to their doctors. As the ED begins to “board” patients, the space, the staff, and the resources available to treat new patients are further reduced.

A consequence of overcrowded emergency departments (EDs) is ambulance diversion, in which EDs close their doors to incoming ambulances. The resulting treatment delay can be catastrophic for the patient, but approximately 500,000 ambulances are diverted annually in the United States (i.e., one ambulance diversion per minute).

For more information, visit the Health E-Stat at

National Survey of Family Growth–Key Statistics

May 27, 2009

The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) gathers information on family life, marriage and divorce, pregnancy, infertility, use of contraception, and men’s and women’s health. The survey results are used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and others to plan health services and health education programs and to do statistical studies of families, fertility, and health.

Key statistics from NSFG can be found at the following web address:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May 20, 2009
May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month.
Some mental health facts you may not know:

  • More than 1 in 20 Americans aged 12 and over currently have depression (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2006).
  • Over 33,000 suicides occurred in 2006; that’s about 11 deaths per 100,000 population (National Vital Statistics System, 2006).
  • Of visits to physician offices for chronic conditions, 9.5% were for depression in 2006, up from 7.5% in 1996 (National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2006).
  • Over the past month, nearly 10% of adults felt sad at least some of the time, and another 5% felt hopeless or worthless (National Health Interview Survey, 2007).

 For more information visit Monitoring the Nation’s Health Care, Spring 2009.


International unmarried childbearing trends featured in new report!

May 13, 2009

Births to unmarried women in the United States totaled 1,714,643 in 2007, 26% more than in 2002. Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. births were to unmarried women in 2007.

The United States is not unique nor does it outpace other countries in nonmarital childbearing. For example, well over one half of recent births to Icelandic, Swedish, and Norwegian women were nonmarital. Proportions of nonmarital births were also high for births to French and Danish women.

The proportions in the United States, nonetheless, are considerably higher than in some industrialized countries. For example, less than 30% of births were to unmarried women in Spain, Canada, Italy, and Japan. Click on the chart below or visit the complete report at



Wireless-only phone use continues to boom

May 6, 2009
Preliminary results from the July-December 2008 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that the number of American homes with only wireless telephones continues to grow. More than one of every five American homes (20.2%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the second half of 2008, an increase of 2.7 percentage points since the first half of 2008.

This is the largest 6-month increase observed since NHIS began collecting data on wireless-only households in 2003.

For more information, visit the report at

Report released on fetal mortality

April 22, 2009
Yesterday, the National Center for Health Statistics released the Data Brief “The Challenge of Fetal Mortality.” Key findings include the following:


  • The magnitude of fetal mortality is considerable: About 1 million fetal deaths occur at any gestational age in the United States each year, including almost 26,000 at 20 weeks of gestation or more.
  • Even when limited to fetal deaths of 20 weeks of gestation or more, nearly as many fetal deaths as infant deaths occur in the United States each year.
  • After decades of decline, the U.S. fetal mortality rate (fetal deaths of 20 weeks of gestation or more) did not decrease from 2003 to 2005.

    For more information, please visit the report at






Health news you may have missed

April 15, 2009

The National Center for Health Statistics’ Office of Public Affairs keeps an archive of previously released press releases going back to 1994. The news releases cover the wide range of important and interesting health topics that our data cover. To search these news releases by date or by subject matter, visit the NCHS Press Room and click on the News Release Archives link.


Some recent highlights:


Teen Birth Rates Up Again in 2007 


Wireless Phone Use Varies Widely Across U.S.


Latest Report on Nation’s Health Focuses on Young Adults


4 in 10 Adults, 1 in 9 Kids Use CAM Therapy


See more at




Births–Using the NCHS Vital Stats Tool

April 8, 2009


NCHS birth tables with a variety of variables for selection are available at

By selecting the national or subnational (i.e., state and some county) levels, you can find specific statistics for national, state, and some county birth rates, fertility rates, method of delivery (vaginal or cesarean), length of pregnancy, birthweight, characteristics of the mother (i.e., age, race, marital status, education), prenatal care, and risk factors (i.e., diabetes, hypertension, and smoking). For journalists who need assistance, feel free to contact the NCHS press office.