New York Citys infant mortality rate widely regarded as a barometer of a populations general health fell slightly in 2006, the Health Department reported today. The rate in 2006 was 5.9 infant deaths for every 1,000 births, down from 6.0 the previous year. The City has made major progress in reducing infant deaths since the early 1990s, when the rate was double what it is today, but the decline has leveled off in recent years. The Health Department also reported that in poorer sectors of the city, infant mortality rates are still double the citywide rate.
In 2006, there were 740 infant deaths (defined as deaths of infants less than a year old) out of 125,506 New York City births. The citys infant mortality rate is still lower than the national rate, which was 6.8 per 1,000 births in 2004, the most recent year on record. The leading causes of infant death both in New York City and nationally are birth defects, premature birth, and low birth weight.
We are making progress, but not enough, and not everywhere, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. There is no single solution to high rates of infant death we see in poor neighborhoods. We need targeted efforts to improve the health of women and children, but we also need to reduce poverty and improve womens access to health care, healthy food, smoke-free environments, and opportunities for physical activity before, during, and after pregnancy.
A womans health before she becomes pregnant is critically important. Infant illness and death is more common in babies whose mothers smoke, use alcohol or drugs, or are obese, have diabetes, or have high blood pressure before they become pregnant. New data from the New York City Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System suggest that all of these risk factors are common among NYC women. Among those who gave birth in 2004 and 2005:
Disparities in Infant Mortality
In 2006, the infant mortality rates for black and Puerto Rican New Yorkers were more than double those for whites and Asians a pattern that has persisted for more than a decade. The race gap persists even when poverty is taken out of the equation. Infants born to higher-income black women died at nearly three times the rate of those born to higher-income white women. While the reasons are not well understood, some experts believe the stress of experiencing of racial discrimination may affect the health of black women.
Infant mortality also varies greatly from one part of the city to another, with low-income areas suffering the highest rates. The highest rate was in the Bronx (7.1 deaths for every 1,000 births). Brooklyns rate was on par with the city average, while Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island fared better than the city as a whole. Over the past three years, Brownsville and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, along with eastern Jamaica in Queens, have had higher infant death rates than any other neighborhood. A complete list of rates by neighborhood is available online at www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/vs/vs-imr-neighborhood-2007.pdf.
Infants who are multiples (twins, triplets, etc.) die at five times the rate of single infants because they are often born preterm. Multiples accounted for 3.8% of New York City births in 2006, up from 3.0% a decade earlier reflecting a rise in maternal age and an increase in the use of fertility treatments.
Driving Down the Infant Mortality Rate
While working to improve everyones access to healthy food and physical activity, the Health Department is also taking direct steps to reduce infant mortality and address its disparate impact:
What Women Can Do To Stay Healthy and Have a Healthy Baby
|Contact: Sara Markt|
New York City Health Department