Thursday, October 16, 2008

U.S. infant mortality ranks lower

After a century of declines, the U.S. infant mortality rate barely budged from 2000 to 2005, causing the United States to slip further behind other developed countries despite spending more on health care, according to a report released Wednesday.

The rate was 6.86 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005, virtually unchanged from 6.89 deaths per 1,000 births in 2000. In 1900, the U.S. infant mortality rate was 100 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The United States dropped to 29th in the world in infant mortality in 2004, the latest year that data are available from all countries, tying with Poland and Slovakia. The year before, it was 27th. In 1960, it was 12th.

The report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed the plateau in mortality to a 9 percent increase in premature births over the same period and to stalled progress in saving the earliest preterm infants. Premature birth and low birth weight are the biggest causes of infant death.

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