ATLANTA, May 11 (UPI) — U.S. preterm births dropped for two years in a row, but they still remain high compared with other developed countries, federal health officials found.
A report by the National Center for Health Statistics, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.68 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006, a 3 percent decline from 6.86 in 2005.
Infant mortality rates were higher for infants whose mothers were unmarried, were born in multiple deliveries, were male infants and infants born preterm or at low birth weight, the report said. The post-neonatal mortality rate decreased 4 percent, from 2.32 in 2005 to 2.22 in 2006.
More than half of all U.S. infant deaths in 2006 occurred to the infants born considered very preterm — less than 32 weeks of gestation.
However, infant mortality rates for late preterm infants — 34 to 36 weeks of gestation — were three times those for babies born to term — 37 to 41 weeks, the report said.
The highest rate, 13.35 per 1,000 live births, was for infants of black mothers with the lowest rate of 4.52 per 1,000 live births for infants of Central and South American mothers.
The infant mortality rates were higher in the South and Midwest and lower elsewhere. For 2004 to 2006, infant mortality rates ranged from 10.63 in Mississippi to 4.93 for Massachusetts, the report said.
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