U.S. Infant Mortality Rate Twice as High for Blacks

But overall rate down by 10% since 1995, study finds

WEDNESDAY, May 2, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- While the infant mortality rate in the United States continues to hold steady, significant racial and ethnic differences persist, a new federal study found.

In 2004, there were 6.78 infant (under 1 year of age) deaths per 1,000 live births, little changed from the rate of 6.84 in 2003, according to the report released Wednesday.

However, non-Hispanic black women had the highest infant mortality rate in the United States in 2004 -- 13.60 per 1,000 live births, compared to 5.66 per 1,000 births among non-Hispanic white women. Women of Cuban ethnicity in the United States had the lowest infant mortality rate -- 4.55 per 1,000 live births, according to the report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other infant mortality rates broken down by race and origin included American Indian (8.45), Puerto Rican (7.82), Mexican (5.47), Asian/Pacific Islander (4.67) and Central/South American (4.65).

The report found that the overall infant mortality rate has declined by 10 percent since 1995, when the rate was 7.57 per 1,000 live births. But, the rate hasn't declined much since 2000, when it was 6.89.

For the three-year period from 2002 through 2004, there were significant differences in infant mortality rates by state, ranging from a rate of 10.32 in Mississippi to 4.68 in Vermont. For infants of non-Hispanic black mothers, rates ranged from 17.57 in Wisconsin to 8.75 in Minnesota. For infants of non-Hispanic white mothers, the infant mortality rate ranged from 7.67 in West Virginia to 3.80 in New Jersey, according to the report, titled Infant Mortality Statistics From the 2004 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set.

A second, related report, Trends in Preterm-Related Infant Mortality by Race/Ethnicity: United States, 1999-2004, found that in 2004, 36.1 percent of all infant deaths in the United States were due to preterm-related causes, up from 34.5 percent of all infant deaths in 1999.

Other findings from the second report:

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of infant deaths to non-Hispanic black women and 40 percent of infant deaths to Puerto Rican women were due to preterm-related causes of death. The percentage was somewhat lower for other race/ethnic groups.
  • Preterm-related infant mortality rates were more than three times higher for non-Hispanic black (6.24) than for non-Hispanic white (1.80) mothers. The preterm-related infant mortality rate for Puerto Rican (3.15) mothers was 75 percent higher than for non-Hispanic white mothers. Preterm-related infant mortality rates for American Indian (1.89), Mexican (1.72), and Asian or Pacific Islander (1.63) women were not significantly different from the rate for non-Hispanic white women.
  • In 2004, the preterm-related infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic black mothers was actually higher than the infant mortality rate for all causes for non-Hispanic white, Mexican, and Asian or Pacific Islander women.

More information

View both reports at the CDC.

SOURCES: May 2, 2007, news release, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta
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