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Little Change in Infant Mortality Rate

CDC Says 2004 and 2003 Infant Mortality Rates Were Essentially the Same
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 3, 2007 -- The CDC's latest infant mortality statistics show no major changes in the infant mortality rate between 2003 and 2004.

In 2004, the U.S. infant mortality rate in 2004 was 6.78 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. That's the lowest infant mortality rate ever reported by the CDC.

But the 2004 infant mortality rate was not much lower than the 2003 infant mortality rate of 6.84 infants per 1,000 live births.

The difference between the 2003 and 2004 infant mortality rates was so small that it may have been due to chance.

Infant mortality rates dropped 10% from 1995 to 2004 but haven't changed much since 2000, says the CDC.

The figures are based on birth and infant death certificates in all states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. Infants were defined as babies less than 1 year old.

Patterns in Infant Mortality Rates

Infant mortality rates varied among racial and ethnic groups. Black mothers had the highest infant mortality rate -- 13.6 infants per 1,000 live births. Cuban mothers living in the U.S. had the lowest rate -- 4.55 infants per 1,000 live births.

In addition, infant mortality rates were higher for boys than girls, for premature babies than full-term babies, and for multiple births than single births.

Teen mothers and moms over age 40 had higher infant mortality rates than mothers in their 20s and 30s.

Leading Causes of Infant Death

The CDC also lists the five leading causes of infant death in 2004:

  1. Birth defects
  2. Disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight
  3. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  4. Newborn affected by maternal complications
  5. Accidents

Another CDC report estimates that 36% of all U.S. infant deaths in 2004 were related to preterm births.

Preterm births accounted for one in eight births in 2004 and have been rising in the U.S. since the mid-1980s, according to the CDC.

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