-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Congenital heart defects
-- abnormalities present at birth -- contribute to racial
differences in rates of newborn deaths in the United States,
according to a study released Thursday.
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention analyzed data on 11,383,665 live births in the United
States between 2003 and 2006, and found that a congenital heart
defect was the underlying cause of death in 4.2 percent (2,256) of
the 54,008 neonatal (first month of life) deaths among white and
Those deaths included 1,777 (5.4 percent) of 33,205 infants of
white mothers and 479 (2.3 percent) of 20,803 infants born to black
mothers, according to the report published Sept. 24 in the CDC's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The study authors also found that a congenital heart defect was
the underlying cause of death in 24.5 percent of neonatal deaths
attributed to birth defects.
Deaths from congenital heart defects were 30 percent lower among
premature infants born to black women (4.5 per 10,000 live births)
than among premature infants born to white women (6.8 per
But full-term infants born to white women were less likely to
die because of a congenital heart defect (1.3 per 10,000) than
those born to black women (1.5 per 10,000), a 20 percent
difference, the study noted.
The reasons for these racial/gestational age differences in
neonatal deaths caused by congenital heart defects aren't clear,
the researchers noted.
The CDC researchers concluded that further investigation should
include an examination of different factors that affect diagnosis
of congenital heart defect during pregnancy and a look at
differences in the accuracy and completeness of cause of death
reporting by race/ethnicity.
The March of Dimes has more about
congenital heart defects.
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