Infant mortality: Inside the numbers

An occasional snapshot of current facts and trends in medicine.

Quick View. Posted May 28, 2007

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Since 2000, U.S. infant mortality rates have stopped declining and started leveling off.

This change is attributed in part to an increase in preterm and low-birth-weight births. By 2004, 36.1% of all infant deaths in the U.S. were preterm-related, up from 34.5% in 1999. Experts connect the overall phenomena to an increase of multiple births, which in turn are related to more widespread use of assisted reproductive therapies; and to changes in the medical management of pregnancy, such as more frequent preterm cesarean deliveries and preterm induction of labor. Experts urge continued tracking of preterm-related causes of infant death to improve understanding of trends in infant mortality and perinatal health in the U.S.

Note: Preterm-related deaths are those in which the infant was born before 37 completed weeks of gestation and the underlying cause of death has a direct, etiological connection to preterm birth based on categories in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. Asian Pacific Islander includes people of Hispanic and non-Hispanic origin.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System

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