|March 31, 2004||Infant Mortality Numbers by
Infant Mortality by Race, 1980-2002
Infant Mortality, 1907-2002
INFANT MORTALITY RATE DROPS TO ALL-TIME LOW
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The number of Illinois babies dying before their first birthday reached an all-time low in 2002 and continued a decline that has seen the rate fall by 25 percent in the past decade, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today reported.
The infant mortality rate for 2002 was 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, a decline of 3.6 percent from the 7.5 rate recorded in 2001 (the previous record low). The rate was 9.6 in 1993. Nationally, the infant mortality rate increased from 6.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001 to 7.0 per 1,000 births in 2002.
Despite the fact the overall state rate showed improvement, Dr. Whitaker noted that infants born to black mothers continue to die at a higher rate than white babies and, in 2002, the gap widened further. The death rate for black babies rose 5 percent to 15.7 per 1,000 live births, more than twice the rate for infants born to white mothers. In 2001, the rate for black babies had reached a record low 14.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Among white babies, the infant mortality rate dropped 7 percent in 2002 to 5.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, an all-time low. The previous low was 5.9 in 2001.
"Infant mortality is an important measure of the state's health and we are making steady progress," Dr. Whitaker said. "But there remains a wide disparity in the survival rate by race that needs our attention. It is imperative that pregnant women of all races, but particularly black moms, receive comprehensive prenatal care."
Dr. Whitaker explained that regular prenatal care offers the opportunity for health care providers to monitor a woman's progress during pregnancy for proper weight gain and nutrition, and to provide advice about the adverse effects of smoking, and alcohol and drug use.
"Every year about half of all infant deaths are linked to low birth weight or, simply put, because the child is born too small," Dr. Whitaker said. "For those small babies that do survive, they often suffer chronic physical problems and learning disabilities. The most successful way to reduce this nagging problem is to assure the mother receives prenatal care."
Medical advances, particularly for babies during the critical first 27 days of life, and a better understanding of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) have made a significant contribution to the lower infant mortality rates over the past 10 years. For every 1,000 babies born in 2002, just 4.9 died before 28 days - 3.9 among whites and 9.6 for blacks.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees the state programs aimed at reducing the state's infant mortality rate, including Family Case Management and WIC (Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children). The primary strategy is to identify women early in pregnancy, assist them with finding health care and other services, help them follow a healthy diet and encourage them to avoid health risks, such as smoking.
Studies have found that infants born to women who participate in the two programs have lower rates of premature birth, low birth weight and infant mortality, and health care expenditures during the first year of life are more than 40 percent less.
DHS also has two other programs that target communities with higher-than-average infant mortality rates. The Chicago Healthy Start Initiative serves seven inner-city Chicago communities that traditionally have had high infant death rates and the Intensive Prenatal Performance Project targets communities across the state that have higher than average rates of premature births.
Geographically, infant mortality rates in Chicago fell from 9.0 in 2001 to 8.6 in 2002, the lowest rate ever recorded by the city. Since 1993, the infant mortality rate in Chicago has fallen 37 percent. The death rate for African-American children in Chicago was 14.8 in 2002, down slightly from the 15.1 deaths per 1,000 live births recorded in 2001, while deaths for white infants declined from 5.5 in 2001 to 5.1 in 2002.
Downstate (all geographic areas outside the city of Chicago) infant deaths decreased from 6.9 in 2001 to 6.7 in 2002, the lowest rate ever recorded. Since 1993, the downstate rate has dropped 14 percent. The downstate rate in 2002 for African-American babies was 16.7, an increase from 14.6 in 2001, while the rate for whites dropped from 6.0 in 2001 to 5.6 in 2002.
The infant mortality rate is figured annually by taking the number of children who die before reaching 1 year of age and dividing that figure by the number of babies born in -more- add 2 the same year, then multiplying by 1,000.
In 2002, 1,304 babies (412 in Chicago and 892 downstate) died before their first birthday (68 percent died within the first 27 days of life) compared to 1,379 infants (446 in Chicago and 933 downstate) in 2001.
The total number of births in 2002 was 180,555, a 1.9 percent drop from the 184,022 recorded in 2001.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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