U.S. infant mortality rates drop, according to a CDC study, but black babies are still twice as likely to die

But the good news was tempered by the fact that black babies still have more than twice the risk of dying than white babies, experts said.

Infant mortality rates decreased for all age groups, and changes in the age of women giving birth accounted for about a third of the decrease from 2000 to 2017, according to the report, published in the National Vital Statistics Reports. from the CDC on Thursday.

The report found that infant mortality rates decreased 16% for women ages 30-39 and 12% for women age 40 and older. Rates also decreased for babies born to women under the age of 29, but only between 8% and 9%.

Still, experts warned that it may be too early to celebrate this decline in deaths.

“What should not be acceptable to us is that we still have about 22,000 infant deaths, or babies who cannot see their first birthday,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, medical and health director for the March of Dimes in New York, who did not participate in the new report.

“For black women, that rate is more than twice, so there is still an unacceptably high racial disparity in infant mortality,” said Gupta. “To begin with, infant mortality is unacceptable, but the huge racial disparity must be addressed.”

Black babies are already known to have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate than white babies, according to the U.S. Office of Minority Health.
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The new CDC report, based on data on child births and deaths from the National Vital Statistics System, also found that the percentage of births increased between 2000 and 2017 for women age 25 and older in the United States.

The largest increase was in women over 35, according to the report. In general, birth percentages between:

  • Women aged 25 to 29 increased by 9%
  • Women aged 30 to 35 increased 24%
  • Women aged 35-39 years increased 30%
  • Women over 40 increased 39%

However, there was an even steeper decline in the percentage of births for women under the age of 25. Births to women under the age of 20 decreased by 57% and by 21% for women aged 20-24.

“One of the things this report shows is that we are making tremendous progress in curbing teen pregnancy trends in this country and have been declining by about 8% a year,” said Gupta.

“However, that progress disproportionately positively impacts non-Hispanic white women,” she added. “And what we are seeing is that the change that occurs in aging is proportionally more likely to have a negative impact on black women, unfortunately. This is the importance of these data.”

The new report has some limitations, including the fact that the findings depend on information that has been reported to CDC and captured in the data.

“What goes in comes out. The limitation of this report is that the data may be incomplete,” Gupta said, adding that the data that is captured in the breed is what is reported. “Then there may be other data that was not captured.”

CNN’s Sandee LaMotte contributed to this report.