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Infant Mortality Rates Declining Nationally and in Pennsylvania

March 23, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released data about infant mortality for the United States during 2005–2014:

  • In 2014, the infant mortality rate for the United States hit new lows for Hispanic, Caucasian, African-American, and Asian or Pacific Islander populations
  • The largest declines were observed among infants of Asian or Pacific Islander (21%) and African-American (20%)
  • African-American populations still have the highest infant mortality rate at 10.93 percent during 2014, whereas the infant mortality rate for Caucasians is 4.89

Four out of the five leading causes of infant death showed declines during 2005–2014:

  • Congenital malformations declined by 11 percent
  • Deaths due to short gestation and low birthweight declined 8 percent
  • Sudden infant death syndrome had the largest decline at 29 percent
  • Infant deaths due to maternal complications declined by 7 percent
  • Infant deaths due to unintentional injuries actually increased by 11 percent

Pennsylvania’s infant mortality rate declined by 12.8 percent, dropping from 7.49 during 2005–2007, to 6.53 during 2012–2014.

Pennsylvania achieved these results by the collaborative efforts of hospitals, practitioners, public health agencies, and other stakeholders. Hospitals with obstetric units participating in HAP’s hospital engagement network shared evidence-based practices and policies focused on reducing:

  • Early elective deliveries at less than 39 weeks of pregnancy
  • Obstetric trauma injuries
  • Timely treatment of mothers with severe hypertension and pre-eclampsia

In addition, many Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems have worked in their communities to promote safe infant sleep practices.

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