According to federal data released recently, the rate of infant mortality in the United States was lowest ever in 2014. The new data is suggesting that this was possible because the rate of preterm births, the biggest cause of infant deaths in the country, kept on falling.
Since a long time, the rate of infant mortality in the US has been stubbornly high, especially when compared to the rate of the same in other rich nations. However, after hitting a peak in 2005, the rates started declining. The year 2013 saw it getting down by as much as 13%.
According to a report released on Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following year i.e. 2014 also experienced a notable decline in the infant mortality rates. This time, the decline was by 2.3%. Just 582.1 infant deaths were recorded for every 100,000 live births taking place in 2014.
This was a new low as during the previous year (2013) there were 596.1 infant deaths for every 100,000 live births.
CDC demographer T. J. Mathews said that this decline in infant mortality rate is possibly the most pleasing news they have had so far. Mathews, although not a part of the team creating the CDC report, has been writing extensively on infant mortality for quite some time.
Researchers haven’t yet succeeded in pointing out the exact reason behind the decline but feel that a reduction in respiratory distress might be partially responsible. CDC data suggests that respiratory distress among premature newborns decreased by 14% in 2014 compared to what it was in 2013. For those who don’t know: respiratory distress is common in prematurely born infants due to their underdeveloped lungs and is marked by troubled breathing.
Boston University health researcher Eugene R Declercq, who represents the university’s School of Public Health, said that doctors have started to avoid scheduling C-sections or inducing births before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless there’s any strong medical reason of doing so.
The practice of inducing labor or scheduling a C-section before time, according to experts, contributed significantly to infant mortality.
Another CDC report released a few months back suggested that the year 2013 saw a slight decline in the rate of preterm births (by 0.05%) and birth through C-section (by 2%).