Utah bucking national trend in child deaths

May 19, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: 1:13 pm

Child deaths in Utah are bucking a national trend elsewhere....

Child care provider Holly Kingston gives children a snack at her home in West Jordan on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. Parents, children, educators, and supporters gathered at the Capitol for Child Care Day on the Hill. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rates of child deaths in American have risen to the highest level in 15 years.

“Our children are now less likely to reach adulthood,” said Steven Woolf who led the analysis of federal death statistics published in JAMA in March.

Between 2019-2020, the mortality rate for children rose 10.7%. It rose another 8.3% the next year. That’s the highest increase in two consecutive years in a half-century.

What about Utah kids?

“We didn’t get that uptick in deaths overall or even just injury-related deaths,” said Nathan Malan, violence and injury prevention program epidemiologist and evaluator with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. “We look at every child injury and child death that happens in the state to see if there are opportunities for prevention and to make sure death certificates are correct.”

This is not to say we don’t have any challenges in Utah.

We saw the largest number of suicides in Utah children in 2019. The numbers went down in 2020 and 2021, but then back up slightly in 2022.

“The majority of firearm deaths in children are suicides, so we saw an uptick in both,” Malan explained.

Is it the pandemic’s fault?

COVID-19 was not the direct cause of death for many young people, but researchers point to social disruption as a cause of several public health issues, especially among children. Malan says it’s hard to make those connections.

“There were concerns about social isolation and how that would impact suicide numbers. In 2020 and 2021, those numbers actually came down from the high in 2019.”

Another category where Utah has not mirrored the national average has been opioid deaths in children.

“There is probably some use of opioids in children in Utah, but we’re not seeing deaths from opioid use like they are in other states,” Malan explained. “The opioid deaths that we do see are in the adult population.”

The trend is good

For years, advances in healthcare and in safety features like bicycle helmets and car seats have greatly reduced the total number of deaths in children. Malan says this is an important point to remember.

“People think this is the worst time ever. We’re having all these suicides and motor vehicle deaths,” said Malan. “But the truth is we’ve been improving in so many areas for so long. Overall our childhood deaths have been coming down for a decade.”

Related stories

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Chief of Police for Price City Police Department, Brandon Sicilie, holding PeeDee....

Britt Johnson

Abandoned puppy finds a home at the Price Police Department

PeeDee, a puppy found on the side of a roadway during a dispatch call, has found a new home with the Price City Police Department.

1 day ago

cdc sign shown, the agency updated its covid guidelines...

Brenda Goodman, CNN

CDC drops 5-day isolation guidance for COVID-19

The CDC says it’s updating its guidance for Covid-19 to bring it in line with its advice for other kinds of respiratory infections, including influenza and RSV.

1 day ago

baby feet, utah postpartum retreat helps new moms...

Britt Johnson

Utah company aims to help postpartum moms with special retreats

The founder of Utah Postpartum Retreat said she thinks new moms are at high risk for developing postpartum mood disorders because they lack support.

2 days ago

A nurse works in the laboratory room in El Nuevo San Juan Health Center at the Bronx borough in New...

Tammy Kikuchi

Skeptics have doubts about universal health care model for Utah

One of the biggest concerns is affordability, according to a recent presentation at the Kem C. Gardener Policy Institute.

4 days ago

FILE: Vietnam War veterans gather for a photograph following a ceremony to recognize and honor Viet...

Eric Cabrera

Veterans can soon sign up for the largest-ever expansion of VA health benefits

On March 5, vets who served in a combat zone, beginning with the Vietnam war, can directly enroll in VA healthcare.

4 days ago

Liver and kidney transplant patient Luis Campos says he's grateful he had a Spanish-speaking team....

Eric Cabrera

Murray kidney clinic helping the Latino community

MURRAY, Utah — Intermountain Health has taken steps to address healthcare in Latino communities by opening Utah’s first fully Spanish-speaking Kidney Transplant Clinic. The Intermountain Clinica Hispana de Riñon (Hispanic Kidney Clinic), in Murray, aims to provide a space for members of the Latino community navigating the complex kidney transplant process. The clinic has bilingual professionals, […]

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Utah bucking national trend in child deaths