The CDC reports good news regarding the national infant mortality rate, which fell by 12% between 2005 and 2011. Declines were similar for neonatal and postneonatal mortality, according to the report.
From 2005 through 2011, infant mortality declined 16% for non-Hispanic black women and 12% for non-Hispanic white women, according to a data brief from the CDCs National Center for Health Statistics.
Reductions were most rapid in some Southern states — Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina — along with Washington, D.C. Declines also were substantial in some Midwest states, such as Illinois, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri.
Still, the South generally had the highest rates of infant mortality as of 2010. Alabama and Mississippi were the only two states with rates of 8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Thirteen additional states had rates of 7 or higher per 1,000 live births: Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, along with D.C.
In 2011, the leading cause of infant death was congenital malformations, followed by short gestation/low birthweight, sudden infant death syndrome, maternal complications and unintentional injuries. Those five causes accounted for 56% of all infant deaths in the United States.
Infant mortality declined for four of those five causes between 2005 and 2011, the exception being unintentional injuries, which did not significantly change. The decline was most dramatic for SIDS, at 20%, which may have been partially due to changes in diagnosis and reporting.
The authors noted that in 2008, the U.S. ranked 27th in infant mortality rate among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. A previous report linked the relatively unfavorable ranking to a higher percentage of preterm births in the U.S.
Despite the recent decline in infant mortality, the U.S. still would have placed 27th internationally in the 2008 rankings when using its 2011 rate of 6.05 deaths per 1,000 live births.
The full data brief is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db120.htm.