The latest Kids Count Data Book, released Thursday by the Maine Children’s Alliance, shows some troubling news about children’s health.
Maine has a higher-than-average infant mortality rate, as well as high rates of anxiety and depression among children, according to the report.
Research associate Helen Hemminger says at one point, Maine had the lowest infant mortality rate in the country.
“Most recently that hasn’t been true,” Hemminger says. “We’ve been above state averages. And we’ve done better the last three years. It’s been going down, but we’re still above national averages, so that’s still an area of concern.”
Hemminger says about 80 children below the age of one die every year in Maine. She says better access to prenatal care and programs that help new parents in the home would help reduce that number.
The Kids Count Data Book also shows that Maine has the highest rate in the nation of children diagnosed with anxiety, and the third highest rate of kids diagnosed with depression.
Hemminger says the data also show that Maine children have the highest rate of access to mental health counseling, but “it didn’t speak to the number of visits, or the adequacy of that service, or even if it helps, so it’s really not a full picture.”
Hemminger says the report also found that the suicide rate among Maine teens is also on the rise, and above the national average.
The report does, though, find that childhood poverty is down, as is teen pregnancy and juvenile arrests.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.
To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.