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Infant Mortality Numbers Declining in the U.S.

Update Date: Apr 19, 2013 11:14 AM EDT

According to the latest statistics presented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the infant mortality rate within the United States has been steadily declining from 2005 to 2011. This new statistic reveals a positive turn after the infant mortality rate stay stagnant between the years of 2000 and 2005. The latest findings reported that the number of deaths in babies under one-year-old dropped from 6.87 per 1,000 infants in 2000 to 6.05 per 1,000 infants in 2011. Not only do these numbers reveal overall improvement, the CDC found that infant mortality rate declined the most in certain areas within the nation.

"We are seeing a slight narrowing in the gap, and that's very encouraging," the senior statistician from the National Center for Health Statistics and study author, Marian F. MacDorman stated. "But the gap is still really big."

The researchers found that infant mortality rate dropped the most in African American mothers. Over the past seven years of this study, the death rate for African American infants dropped by 16 percent, which is a huge improvement since previous numbers revealed that infant mortality is the highest in African Americans, with African American infants dying twice as much as Caucasian infants. In terms of regional decline, the report stated that Southern states, which included Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, which have been known to have higher rates of infant mortality than other region within the country, had a decline of over 20 percent from 2005 to 2010.

The states with the recorded highest percentages of infant deaths are Mississippi, whose infant mortality rate dropped 15 percent, and Alabama. The researchers added that in the District of Columbia, which recently adapted better programs to help the poor and pregnant community, had the largest decline in numbers of infant death.  In 2005, the rate of deaths was 14.05 per 1,000 births and fell to 7.86 in 2010.

The researchers of this latest report attributed the decline to the decline in premature babies. The rate of premature births soared in 2006 at 12.8 percent, but has decreased steadily since then. The report stated that of the five leading causes of infant deaths, rates declined in four of them, which were congenital malformations, short gestation periods resulting in lower birth wrights, sudden infant death syndrome and maternal complications. The last leading factor, which is unintentional injuries, actually increased slightly.

The researchers also stated that another possible contributor to the drop in rates could be the recent campaigns against scheduled deliveries that are considered to be early. Although full term pregnancies are considered to be from the range of 37 to 41 weeks, some hospitals are preventing pregnant women from opting for a delivery before 39 weeks unless there is a medical reason. These programs, which include the March of Dimes campaign, Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait, could already be educating the public on ways to keep infants healthy and avoid premature deaths.

"Its [the campaign] been going on for a few years now and I think it has had an impact. It's maybe leading to just a little change in the culture," MacDorman stated. 

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