California’s infant mortality rate has reached a record low, announced Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). In 2009, the most recent year data is available, the rate was 4.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate has fluctuated over the past 20 years, from a high of 7.5 per 1,000 in 1991, to the previous low of 5.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006.
“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,” said Chapman. “Early entry into prenatal care, genetic testing to identify health risks at birth, breastfeeding, childhood immunizations, and continuing proper nutrition through a baby’s developing years all contribute to improving infant health outcomes.”
Infant mortality is defined as the number of deaths in infants one year of age or younger. In 2009, there were 526,774 births in California and 2,593 infants died that year.
In 2007 (the most recent national data available), California had the lowest infant mortality rate among the ten states with the highest number of births. North Carolina, which had 131,037 births, had the highest infant mortality rate of 8.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, while California, which had 566,414 births, had the lowest infant mortality rate of 5.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
African-Americans in California experienced the largest decline in infant mortality, from 12.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 10.6 in 2009. While this is a significant improvement, racial/ethnic disparities in infant mortality persist, and African-American infant deaths in 2009 occurred 2.6 times more frequently than Caucasian infant deaths.
For further information or resources that can help pregnant women or women who are considering pregnancy, visit:
• Maternal health before, during and after pregnancy
• Nutrition needs for pregnant women, nursing women and infants
• Immunization needs of pregnant women and infants
• Genetic Disease Screening Program