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United States Infant Mortality Rates Examined

U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than rates in most other developed countries

FRIDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- With more than 28,000 children dying under 1 year of age each year, the U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than rates in most other developed countries, and no better than Poland and Slovakia, according to the October U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Data Brief, Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the United States.

In computing infant mortality rates by race and ethnicity, Marian F. MacDorman, Ph.D., and T.J. Mathews, from the NCHS in Maryland, used data from birth certificates linked to information from the death certificates for each infant less than 1 year of age who died in the United States.

At 6.78 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, the U.S. infant mortality rate was about 50 percent higher than the national goal, the report indicates. It was especially high among non-Hispanic blacks (13.63), Puerto Ricans (8.30) and American Indian/Alaska Natives (8.06). Much of the lack of decline from 2000 to 2005 was due to an increase in preterm births and deaths, the authors note.

"These differences may relate in part to differences in risk factors for infant mortality such as preterm and low birth weight delivery, socioeconomic status, access to medical care, etc. However, many of the racial and ethnic differences in infant mortality remain unexplained," the authors write.

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Physician's Briefing