More U.S. babies are surviving their first year of life, but infant death rates are still too high, especially for blacks, says the CDC.

America's overall infant death rate showed some improvement from 1995 to 2002, but those gains didn't erase long-standing racial gaps, says the CDC.

From 1995 to 2002 the overall infant death rate in the U.S. was 7.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. Here are the infant death rates for the 10 highest states plus Washington, D.C. Rankings go from highest to lowest. Ties are listed alphabetically.

1. Washington, D.C.: 13.5

2. Mississippi: 10.4

3. Alabama: 9.7

4. Louisiana: 9.5

5. South Carolina: 9.3

6. North Carolina: 8.9

7. Georgia: 8.7

8. Tennessee: 8.7

9. Arkansas: 8.6

10. Delaware: 8.6

America's infant death rate will have to drop by 36 percent to meet goals set by the federal government for the year 2010, says the CDC.

Read Web MD's "Simple Measures Could Save Millions of Infants."

Racial Gaps Persist

Some groups remained especially vulnerable. For instance, blacks and American Indians/Native Alaskans didn't have any significant improvements, says the CDC.

Blacks' infant death rate — 13.9 per 1,000 live births — was more than double that of whites. Here are the rates for each group (per 1,000 live births):

—Black: 13.9

—American Indian/Native American: 9.1

—White: 5.9

—Hispanic: 5.8

—Asian/Pacific Islander: 5.0

Some Overall Improvement Seen

Overall infant death rates are better than they were a decade ago.

In 1995, the country's rate was 7.6 per 1,000 live births. That dropped to 6.8 by 2001. The rate edged back up to 7.0 in 2002. However, the national goal for 2010 is no more than 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The numbers, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, include babies who died before their first birthday. Data came from birth and death certificate information nationwide.

Read Web MD's "Prenatal Screening Curbs Infant Deaths."

Factors Affecting Infant Death Rate

Efforts to lower the infant death rate should consider factors that may vary by race and ethnicity, says the CDC.

Those factors might include infant age at death, mother's age and health, multiple births, low birth weight, premature births, assisted reproductive technology, prenatal visits, and access to health care services, says the CDC.

Read Web MD's "Why the Infant Death Rate Went Up."

Geographical Rankings

Here are the 1995-2002 infant death rates for each state, plus Washington, D.C. Rankings go from highest to lowest. Ties are listed alphabetically.

1. Washington, D.C.: 13.5

2. Mississippi: 10.4

3. Alabama: 9.7

4. Louisiana: 9.5

5. South Carolina: 9.3

6. North Carolina: 8.9

7. Georgia: 8.7

8. Tennessee: 8.7

9. Arkansas: 8.6

10. Delaware: 8.6

11. Illinois: 8.4

12. Maryland: 8.3

13. Oklahoma: 8.2

14. Michigan: 8.1

15. Indiana: 8.0

16. West Virginia: 8.0

17. Ohio: 7.9

18. Missouri: 7.6

19. Pennsylvania: 7.5

20. Virginia: 7.5

21. South Dakota: 7.4

22. Florida: 7.3

23. Kansas: 7.3

24. Nebraska: 7.3

25. North Dakota: 7.2

26. Arizona: 7.1

27. Kentucky: 7.1

28. Montana: 7.0

29. Wisconsin: 6.9

30. Alaska: 6.8

31. Wyoming: 6.8

32. Hawaii: 6.7

33. Idaho: 6.7

34. Connecticut: 6.6

35. Rhode Island: 6.6

36. New Mexico: 6.5

37. New York: 6.5

38. Colorado: 6.4

39. Iowa: 6.4

40. New Jersey: 6.4

41. Nevada: 6.3

42. Texas: 6.2

43. Vermont: 6.0

44. Minnesota: 5.9

45. California: 5.7

46. Oregon: 5.6

47. Washington: 5.6

48. Utah: 5.4

49. Maine: 5.3

50. Massachusetts: 5.0

51. New Hampshire: 4.9

Read Web MD's "Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most."

By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

SOURCES: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 10, 2005; vol 54: pp 553-556. News release, CDC.