Science

Infant Mortality Rate In U.S. Has Dropped

By Matthew Dougherty , Apr 19, 2013 12:39 PM EDT

New data shows that the U.S. infant mortality rate has dropped down 12 percent from 2005, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which released the information.

The National Center for Health Statistics conducted the study that shows that in 2011, there were 6.05 deaths for every 1,000 newborn babies. In 2005 that number was 6.87.

The LA Times says that the leading causes of death before an infant’s first birthday are low birth weight, congenital malformations, sudden infant death syndrome and maternal complications.

Despite still having the highest infant mortality rate, the Southern states saw the largest improvements. But Alabama and Mississippi still have the highest numbers in the country.

Also, African Americans saw the most significant rate decline, but are still double the rates of whites. But all ethnic groups saw a decline, according to the data released.

Senior Statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics Marian MacDorman led the study and said that the differences between various ethnic groups is a major problem.

However, she also said that medical care and awareness of the risks of elective deliveries and preterm birth have improved.

"These recent efforts to limit elective deliveries are beginning to change the culture around early delivery," MacDorman said. "That is very positive."

Chief Executive at the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs Michael Fraser said that the efforts to bring down infant mortality are finally paying off, and now those efforts have to be maintained.

"It would be horrible to see in five years for the rates to go back up because we are not able to sustain this level of intervention,” Fraser said.

He went on to say that the health of young women needs to be addressed earlier. To do this, maternal medical homes have been created to enrich every aspect of care for pregnant women.

"For us to improve birth outcomes, we really need to move beyond the nine months of pregnancy," Fraser said.

These efforts should continue to pan out as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in 2012 that public and private organizations would receive help from the federal government to combat infant mortality

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