Infant mortality is still higher among African American babies

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The U.S. has made progress in reducing its infant mortality rate, according to the CDC. But a new report in JAMA says that despite this progress, there is still a major gap between the death rates of non-Hispanic black infants and non-Hispanic white infants.

Why it matters: If infant mortality rates in African Americans were as low as white Americans, there would be 4,000 less infant deaths.

The numbers:

  • From 2005-2012, infant death rates for black Americans decreased from 14.3 out of 1,000 to 11.6 out of 1,000.
  • But from 2012-2015, numbers stalled and then began increasing from 11.6 to 11.7.
  • During the same time period, white infant deaths decreased from 5.7 to 4.8 per 1,000.
  • It is unclear why black infant death rates have started increasing, and why there is a disparity. However, black babies were more likely to be preterm — the top cause of death for black infants was low birthweight.

The study used data from 2005-2015 from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System. They looked at deaths in the first year of life, and sorted the data by year, race, and cause of death.