Dominion Post 01/04/2011
Violence, car accidents and suicide are now the leading causes of adolescent deaths worldwide, trumping child mortality rates – and New Zealand teenagers are among those at risk. A United States study has shown that global death rates among males aged 15 to 24 are now three times higher than children, in a reversal of historical trends. When the World Health Organisation began collecting data in 1955, deaths among children aged one to four – mostly from disease – were by far the highest of all age groups. But new research shows that though mortality rates have fallen for children under 14 and young women aged up to 24, the outlook for young men has not improved as much. In all 50 countries studied, mortality rates among infants up to one year are still the highest. The research, published in The Lancet medical journal, recommended that future global health targets focus on the health problems of adolescents – a standpoint stressed by New Zealand health commentators. The most recent New Zealand research, a 2009 report on youth mortality to the Health Ministry, shows rates of death increase dramatically during the “risk-taking years” from 14 to 24, especially among young men.