To evaluate whether differences between pediatric male and female mortality are due to differences in specific age ranges, specific disease categories, or differences in the risk of developing specific conditions versus the risk of dying once having developed the condition.
Using 1999–2008 mortality data for all deaths of individuals <20 years of age from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database, we calculated male-to-female relative risks (RRs), standardized to the 2000 US Census, by age and International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10), chapters. By using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s record of linked birth and infant death records between 1999 and 2007, we also calculated male-to-female RRs stratified by gestational age; and by using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registries for 1999–2008, we calculated incidence and mortality RRs for the 7 leading types of cancer.
Males experience higher mortality rates in all age groups from birth to age 20 years (RR: 1.44; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.44–1.45) and among infant deaths in nearly all weekly gestational age strata (RR: 1.12; 95% CI: 1.11–1.12). Stratified by ICD-10 major disease categories, males experience higher mortality rates in 17 of 19 categories. For the 7 types of pediatric cancers, the overall pattern was similarly greater male incidence (RR: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.12–1.14), fatality rate (RR: 1.10; 95% CI: 1.07–1.13), and overall mortality (RR: 1.21; 1.18–1.25).
Under 20 years of age, males die more than females from a wide array of underlying conditions. The potential genetic and hormonal mechanisms for the mortality difference between males and females warrant investigation.