In 2005, 28,440 infants died before their first birthday, representing an infant mortality rate of 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, a slight increase over the previous year (6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births). The leading cause of infant mortality was congenital malformations, deformations, and chromosomal abnormalities, which accounted for 19.5 percent of infant deaths.
The infant mortality rate declined from the 1960s into this century, but increased slightly between 2001 and 2002. This was largely due to an increase in the percentage of infants born weighing less than 750 grams, reasons for which include a rise in both preterm and multiple births. The rapid decline in infant mortality that began in the mid-1960s slowed among both Blacks and Whites during the 1980s. Major advances, including the approval of synthetic surfactants and the recommendation that infants be placed on their backs when sleeping, may have contributed to a renewed decline during the 1990s.
In 2005, the mortality rate among non-Hispanic Black infants was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is more than twice the rate among non-Hispanic White and Hispanic infants (5.7 and 5.8 per 1,000 live births, respectively). Although the trend in infant mortality rates among both non-Hispanic Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites has generally been one of decline throughout the last century, the proportional discrepancy in rates between the two races remains largely unchanged.
The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and the MCHB’s Healthy Start Program provide health and support services to pregnant women and infants with the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes.