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Infant mortality rate in US drops again

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The infant mortality rate in the United States declined again in recent years after reaching a plateau in the early part of this century, according to a new government report.

In 2011, there were 6.05 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 6.87 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The biggest drop was seen in the mortality rate of infants born to black women.

The infant mortality declined significantly throughout the 20th century, but then plateaued between 2000 and 2005, according to the report.  

The recent decline was most rapid in states in the South. However, states in the South had the highest infant mortality rates in 2010. Four states (Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina) along with Washington, D.C., saw their infant mortality rates drop by more than 20 percent between 2005 and 2010.

Five causes of death accounted for 56 percent of all infant deaths in 2011: congenital malformations, premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome, maternal complications and unintentional injuries. Between 2005 and 2011, there were declines in the death rates from all of these causes except unintentional injuries.

No states saw an increase in the infant mortality rate over the study period.

Data gathered to date on infant mortality in 2012 suggest that the downward trend continued, the report said.

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