July 16 (UPI) -- Infant mortality has reached an all-time low in the United States, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2018, 21,498 infant deaths were reported across the country, a decline of 4% from the 22,341 deaths reported in 2017, the agency's analysis said.
Overall, the national infant mortality rate declined to 5.67 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018, down 2% from the 2017 rate of 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live births, the CDC found.
That figure is the lowest reported in U.S. history, agency researchers said.
The infant mortality rate has trended downward since 1995 and has declined 17% since 2005, according to the CDC.
However, at 10.75 deaths per 1,000 live births, deaths among infants born to non-Hispanic Black women remain significantly more common than they are for infants born to Hispanic women -- at 4.86 deaths per 1,000 live births -- and to non-Hispanic White women -- 4.63 deaths per 1,000 live births -- the agency said.
Mortality rates were highest for infants born to women under age 20, at 8.65 deaths per 1,000 births, the CDC said.
In 2018, 66% of infant deaths occurred among those born preterm -- or less than 37 weeks of gestation -- according to the report.
The leading causes of infant deaths nationally in 2018 were congenital malformations, or inherited physical defects, at 21% of infant deaths; disorders related to short gestation and low birth-weight, at 17%; maternal complications, at 6%; sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, at 6%; and "unintentional injuries," at 5%, the CDC found.
Infant mortality ranged from a low of 3.50 deaths per 1,000 births in New Hampshire to a high of 8.41 deaths per 1,000 births in Mississippi, the agency said.
In addition to New Hampshire, nine other states -- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington -- had infant mortality rates significantly lower than the national average of 5.67, according to the CDC.
Sixteen states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia -- had infant mortality rates significantly higher than the national average, the agency said.