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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Study Reveals Pediatric Mortality Rates Declining More Slowly for Rural Children Compared to Urban Peers

Recent research led by Health Services Policy and Management Distinguished Professor Emerita, Dr. Janice Probst at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health has found that the decline of deaths among children living in the rural United States has lagged behind rates of decline for urban children, particularly among non-Hispanic black infants and Indian/Alaska Native children. Dr. Probst’s research team, which includes Rural and Minority Health Research Center research assistant professor, Dr. Whitney Zahnd and former post-doctoral fellow Ms. Charity Breneman, published the findings from their study in Health Affairs.

Pediatric mortality rates in the United States have steadily declined over the past two decades, although they remain higher than those found in Canada, the United Kingdom and most other developed countries. Previous research has shown, however, that progress has not been even across racial/ethnic groups – with mortality rates remaining higher among non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native children compared to non-Hispanic white children. The investigators wondered if rural children had also failed to benefit from overall improvements in children’s health.

In their study, the researchers used mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine how the mortality rates of children living in rural counties compared to those in urban communities during the period of 1999 – 2017. They found that rural children experienced higher mortality rates than their urban peers across all age groups, with non-Hispanic black infants and American Indian/Alaska Native children particularly at risk.

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