Calif. Infant Mortality Rate Reaches Record Low, Report Finds
Details of the Report
According to HealthyCal, infant mortality is defined as deaths among infants younger than one year (Kritz, HealthyCal, 1/14).
The report found there were 503,788 live births in California in 2012 and 2,247 infants died. The rate is a decrease from 4.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births the previous year (Larson, Lake County News, 1/14).
According to the report, the leading causes of infant death in 2012 include:
- Congenital malformations;
- Short gestation periods, defined as a pregnancy lasting less than 40 weeks; and
- Low birthweight (HealthyCal, 1/14).
The report found racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality rates, but the rates declined among all groups.
For example the infant mortality rate among:
- Blacks decreased from 10.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 9.8 in 2012;
- Whites decreased from 4.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 3.8 in 2012; and
- Hispanics decreased from 4.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 4.7 in 2012 (Lake County News, 1/14).
In response to the report, Ron Chapman, state health officer and director of DPH, said, "Optimal infant health outcomes are influenced by a woman's health even before she becomes pregnant, including avoidance of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, maintaining a healthy weight and taking folic acid supplements."
Chapman said infant health outcomes could be improved by:
- Earlier prenatal care;
- Genetic testing to identify health risks at birth;
- Childhood immunizations; and
- Continuing proper nutrition through an infant's developing years (HealthyCal, 1/14).