Infant Mortality Rates In The US Are Down
April 18, 2013

US Infant Mortality Rate Down Since 2005, CDC Reports

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The infant mortality rate in the US fell 12 percent from 2005 to 2011, with improvements reported in all major racial and ethnic groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report issued on Wednesday.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the country´s infant mortality rate fell from 6.87 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 6.05 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011.

From 2005 through 2011 the neonatal mortality rate (deaths under age 28 days per 1,000 live births) fell 11 percent, while the postneonatal mortality rate (deaths at ages 28 days to under one year per 1,000 live births) dropped 14 percent, the CDC report added. The mortality rate decreased most for non-Hispanic black women (16 percent) during that time period, while the lowest rate of decline was observed in Hispanic women (nine percent).

In addition, deaths related to four out of the five primary causes of infant death — congenital malformations, short gestation/low birth weight, Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and maternal complications — decreased from 2005 through 2011. There was no significant change in the fifth, unintentional injuries, between 2005 and 2011.

“Some of the biggest gains were seen in Southern states, though the region still has the highest infant mortality rates overall. The highest rates are in Mississippi and Alabama,” Anna Gorman of the Los Angeles Times said.

Study leader Marian MacDorman, a senior statistician with the NCHS, told Gorman that the gains in those states and in African-American women are good news. She added that efforts to limit elective deliveries, increased awareness of the dangers associated with preterm birth, and improved medical care were all factors in the recent trends.

The goal now, according to Michael Fraser, chief executive of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, is to maintain efforts to reduce infant mortality. He told Gorman that it was “a critical time to celebrate success” but that it was also essential to “figure out how we are going to keep this going.”

“It would be horrible to see in five years for the rates to go back up because we are not able to sustain this level of intervention,” he added. While in the past medical experts have focused on providing quality prenatal care for mothers, Fraser said that it is important to begin addressing the health of young females earlier. “For us to improve birth outcomes, we really need to move beyond the nine months of pregnancy,” he said.