-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Survival odds for black
American infants are considerably worse than for white babies, a
new U.S. study finds.
Despite a steady decline in overall infant death rates, black
infants are nearly twice as likely to die before their first
birthday compared to white babies, and premature black infants are
three times more likely to die during their first year than
premature white babies, according to figures released Thursday by
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report also notes that the South accounts for the majority
of states with the highest rates of infant death.
The findings of racial and regional disparities show that
challenges remain, according to the study, published in the Aug. 8
issue of the CDC's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Also, the United States lags behind other developed nations in
terms of infant deaths. "Since 1950, medical technology has helped
to reduce infant mortality, but the United States still has a
relatively poor global standing," the report states. "In 2010, the
United States ranked 32nd among the 34 nations of the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development in infant mortality."
The overall U.S. infant death rate -- defined as death within
the first year of life -- has declined over the past 50 years, and
in 2011 was 6.05 per 1,000 live births, the report notes.
Infant deaths are mostly the result of pre-term birth, birth
defects, mothers' poor health, labor and delivery complications,
lack of appropriate care at the time of delivery, sudden unexpected
infant death, and infection, the researchers said.
They noted that recent national and regional partnerships may
help improve the health of mothers before, during and after
pregnancy, which could help prevent infant deaths.
Specific steps that can boost a baby's chance of survival, the
authors say, include: improving the health of women before they get
pregnant; reducing smoking during pregnancy; stopping elective
preterm deliveries; providing infants with safe sleeping
environments; and ensuring that high-risk infants are born in
facilities that provide the best care.
The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development has more about
infant care and health.
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