U.S. infant mortality, preterm birth drop

July 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM   |   Comments

BETHESDA, Md., July 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. infant mortality rate, the preterm birth rate and the adolescent birth rate all declined further in 2012, health officials said.

"This year's report contains good news about newborns," Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a statement. "Fewer infants were born preterm and fewer died in the first year of life."

Infants born prematurely or of low-birth weight -- weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces -- are at increased risk for serious health problems as newborns, lasting disabilities and even death.

In 2005, the United States ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality, behind most European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Israel, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The report -- America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2010 -- was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a group of 22 federal agencies, found the violent crime victimization rate among youth also fell, as did the percentage of young children living in a home where someone smoked.

The percentage of children living in poverty increased, and the percentage of children with at least one parent employed full time, year-round decreased, the report said.

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