After holding steady from 2000 through 2005, the US infant mortality rate dropped 12% from 2005 through 2011, according to a new CDC report. In 2011, the rate was 6.05 deaths of babies less than a year old for every 1,000 births, down from 6.87 in 2000. Premature births also have been dropping since 2006, and many hospitals and other organizations have been working to prevent mothers from scheduling deliveries before 39 weeks without a valid medical reason. Researchers say both those factors likely contributed to the drop in the infant mortality rate, the New York Times reports.
- Southern states, which have some of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, saw some of the biggest improvements. In Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the rate declined by more than 20%.
- Black women, who have also typically seen higher infant mortality rates than white women, experienced a decline of 16%. One report author calls it "encouraging," but says the gap is still too large.
- The biggest drop was in the District of Columbia, which went from 14.05 deaths per 1,000 births in 2005 to 7.86 by 2010. It has been improving services to moms, babies, and poor pregnant women.
- The highest infant mortality rates are in Mississippi and Alabama.