WEDNESDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- On average, more than 16,000 12- to 19-year-olds die each year in the United States, and the leading cause of death among this age group is motor vehicle accidents, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Arialdi Miniño, of the NCHS, writes that an average of 16,375 12- to 19-year-olds died each year from 1999 to 2006. This number accounted for less than 1 percent of all deaths every year in the United States. Accidents (unintentional injuries) accounted for 48 percent of all deaths in this age group, and motor vehicle accidents accounted for 73 percent of all deaths from unintentional injuries. Motor vehicle accidents were responsible for more than one-third of all deaths among 12- to 19-year-olds. After accidents, the leading causes of death were homicide, suicide, cancer, and heart disease.
In addition, the report notes that, at age 19, the death rate for males (135.2 deaths per 100,000) was nearly three times that for females (46.1 per 100,000). Among all teenagers, non-Hispanic black males had the highest death rate, 94.1 per 100,000, and the leading cause of death in this population was homicide.
"Teenage mortality is an important public health issue because the majority of deaths among teenagers are caused by external causes of injury such as accidents, homicide, and suicide. These causes of death are, by definition, preventable," the author writes.