The proportion of Puerto Rican children living in high-poverty areas stands at 84 percent, seven times the comparable figure for the continental United States, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT® Data Book.

Even so, the report documents an improvement in health and education indicators among Puerto Rico's children.

"The economic outlook for Puerto Rican children continues to be worrisome, but it encourages us to see that in the areas of health and education more children are having a good start in life," Nayda Rivera-Hernandez of the National Council of La Raza, which administers the projects of the Casey Foundation in Puerto Rico, told Efe.

More than half of Puerto Rico's kids are part of single-parent households, she said.

Sixteen percent of high-school-age Puerto Ricans are neither in class or working, compared with 8 percent in the United States as a whole.

The Data Book emphasizes that 40 percent of young people here do not manage to graduate from high school in four years, placing Puerto Rico in last place among the U.S. jurisdictions along with the District of Columbia.

In addition, the rate of teen pregnancy - 51 for every 1,000 adolescent girls - is far above the average rate for the United States as a whole.

Regarding positive trends, although the percentage of low-birthweight babies continues to be high it has declined slightly to 12.6 percent.

Also, the percentage of children not attending preschool has declined from 51 percent to 47 percent.

"Children should grow up healthy and have a good education if they're going to be the strong citizens, workers and leaders our country needs. Puerto Rico is moving forward in these areas and we hope that these advances continue," Rivera-Hernandez said. EFE