This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle’s health section on May 1, 2013.
Fewer American babies are dying in their first year of life, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our national infant mortality rate declined 12 percent from 2005 to 2011, and there was bigger improvement for Southern states and African American babies – though both still have the worst rates of infant mortality compared with other regions of the country or ethnicities.
Experts credit some of the decline to a drop in premature births and a concerted effort by doctors and hospitals to avoid elective deliveries before 39 weeks. There’s also been a decrease in cases of sudden infant death syndrome, which has been the target of public education campaigns.
The U.S. infant mortality rate held steady between 2000 and 2005 before beginning to fall, and there are signs that the drop will continue. But when compared with the infant mortality rates of other developed nations, the United States still ranks among the worst.
The number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births in the United States in 2011, according to the new CDC report.
The infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births in California. Our state joins 11 others with the best infant mortality rates in the country.
The infant mortality rate in Santa Clara County – the lowest in the Bay Area. Seven of the nine Bay Area counties have rates ranging from 3.3 to 4.3. Only Napa and Solano counties are above state average, with 5.6 and 6.2 respectively.
The United States’ infant mortality ranking among the 30 developed nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an association in which governments share policies to promote economic and social well-being. According to a 2008 National Center for Health Statistics report, the three nations with worse infant mortality rates are Chile, Turkey and Mexico.