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Infant death rates are influences by many elements including the mother’s health, quality of and access to medical care, and financial conditions. Racial and geographic risk factors for US infant deaths were revealed in a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The infant death rate declined 10 percent from 2005 to 2010 to 6.14 per 1,000 live births. The highest infant mortality rate was for non-Hispanic black women, a rate 2.3 times higher than for non-Hispanic white women. Compared with non-Hispanic white women, infant mortality rates were 53 percent higher for American Indian/Alaska Native women and 32 percent higher for Puerto Rican women. Infant mortality rates for Asian/Pacific Islanders and Central or South American women were lower than those for non-Hispanic white women. From 2005 to 2008, infant death rates fell about 4 percent for the total population and for non-Hispanic white women, about 7 percent for non-Hispanic black women, and 12 percent for Puerto Rican women. Based on the mother’s place of birth, the 2008 infant death rate was 38 percent higher for women born in the 50 states and DC than for women born elsewhere. The infant death rate was 21 percent higher for male than for female infants.

Differences also exist between various states, with a double or more difference in rates between the states with the highest and lowest rates. Infant death rates are generally higher in the South and Midwest. From 2006 through 2008, total infant death rates fluctuated from a high of 11.97 per 1,000 live births for DC and Mississippi at 10.16 to a low of 4.94 for Massachusetts and Utah. For non-Hispanic white women, Alabama had the highest rate (7.67) and New Jersey the lowest rate (3.78). For non-Hispanic black women, the rate was highest in Hawaii (18.54) and lowest in Washington (7.66). For Hispanic women, the rate was highest in Pennsylvania (7.94) and lowest in Louisiana (3.92).

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