U.S. Infant Mortality Rate Drops To Record Low: Study

A new government report indicates that infant mortality rates across the U.S. have dropped 15%, with improvements seen in about two-thirds of all states. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) issued a data brief on March 21, announcing that infant deaths declined from 6.86 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005, to 5.82 in 2014. The report also noted an even steeper drop in infant deaths attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The study evaluated national vital statistics data from 2005 to 2014, looking at infant deaths under 1 year of age, and their causes. The NCHS study noted that infant mortality is considered a key indicator of public health for a nation.

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According to the findings, the overall infant mortality rate dropped 15%, and reached record lows in the U.S. for Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Asian or Pacific Islanders. Asian or Pacific Islanders had the largest decline of about 21%, followed closely by non-Hispanic blacks, who had a 20% infant mortality rate reduction.

Despite the sharp decline, non-Hispanic blacks still had the highest infant mortality rate of any racial group in the country.

The report identified the top five leading causes of infant mortality. The leading cause of infant death was congenital malformations, which declined 11%, followed by deaths due to short gestation and low birthweight, sudden infant death syndrome, maternal complications, and unintentional injuries, in that order.

Deaths linked to sudden infant death syndrome decreased the most, showing a 29% drop. All of the other categories decreased as well, except for unintentional injuries, which actually increased by 11%.

Nationwide, the report found that 33 states overall showed significant declines, with 11 states and the District of Columbia showed declines of greater than 16%. The remaining 17 states showed no statistically significant change in infant death rates, and no states showed a statistically significant increase.

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