NEW YORK, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- New York City's infant mortality rate fell again in 2007, reaching the lowest level ever recorded, city health department officials said.
The 2007 rate -- 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 5.9 in 2006 -- marked the sharpest one-year decline since 2001, when the city's infant mortality rate declined to 6.1 from 6.7 per 1,000 live births.
Of the 128,961 babies born in New York City in 2007, 697 died before the age of 1 -- 43 fewer than in 2006. The city's infant mortality rate remained significantly lower than that of the nation, which was 6.9 in 2005, the most recent year on record, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, health commissioner, said.
The number of local births surged by 3,455 during 2007, and births to Asian women accounted for half of the increase. News reports suggest that many Chinese couples timed their pregnancies to coincide with the Year of the Golden Pig, a particularly auspicious year in the Chinese lunar calendar, Frieden said.
"We are heading in the right direction, but substantial disparities remain," Frieden said in a statement. "Infant death rates remain unacceptably high among blacks and Puerto Ricans and in low-income neighborhoods."