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CDC: Stillbirths Now Outnumber Infant Deaths in U.S.

Experts point to dropping infant death rates, racial disparities in care, and fertility treatments as factors

THURSDAY, July 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Stillbirths have eclipsed infant deaths for the first time in the United States, according to new research published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's July 23 National Vital Statistics Report.

"The number of fetal deaths is now slightly higher than the number of infant deaths," report coauthor Elizabeth Gregory, M.P.H., a health statistician at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, told HealthDay. In 2013, there were 23,595 fetal deaths at 20 weeks of gestation or more, compared to 23,446 infant deaths. The report did not include abortions, Gregory said.

Although fetal death rates overall have remained largely unchanged, they are higher for certain populations, including teens, women aged 35 and over, and unmarried women, along with male fetuses and multiple fetuses, the researchers found. But significant racial disparities also emerged in the report.

In 2013, the fetal death rate for black women stood at 10.5 per 1,000 pregnancies, which was more than twice the rate for white women and Asian or Pacific Islander women, researchers found. The fetal death rate for American Indian or Alaska Native women was 27 percent higher than the rate for white women, while it was 7 percent higher for Hispanic women.

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