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Mayor Vincent C. Gray and DC Department of Health Announce Continued Decrease in the District’s Infant-Mortality Rate

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and DC Department of Health Announce Continued Decrease in the District’s Infant-Mortality Rate

2011 Report Shows Drop in Rate to 7.4 Infant Deaths per 1,000 Live Births

(Washington, DC)  – Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and officials from the DC Department of Health (DOH) announced an infant-mortality rate of 7.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births – another historic low for the District, after last year’s announcement of 8.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The declining infant-mortality trends reflect the District’s successful 10-year path to achieving its Healthy People 2010 objective of reducing infant mortality. 

“The rate of infant mortality is the best-known indicator of community’s health status,” Mayor Gray said. “It is encouraging to see the continued decline in infant mortality in the District, and I am confident that as we continue making long-term health investments for the city’s most vulnerable populations, we will continue to see improvements in many health indicators.”

Several factors contributed to the District’s 2011 reduction in infant mortality, including: 

  • An increase in public-health initiatives for expectant mothers;
  • An 86.3 percent reduction in smoking among pregnant women;
  • A 50 percent increase in mothers who breastfeed;
  • Expansion of, and increased access to, the District’s primary-care prenatal services; and
  • An 8.6 percent reduction in teen births in the District. 

“The continued decrease of the District’s infant-mortality rate is a reflection of the city’s strong leadership and commitment to increase access to care and improve local programming,” said Dr. Saul Levin, DOH Interim Director. “The Department of Health will continue to develop targeted programs to improve health outcomes to ensure every District resident lives their best life.” 

2011 Infant Mortality Report Highlights

Highlights of the report include: 

  • The number of infant deaths decreased from 73 in 2010 to 69 in 2011, a 5.5 percent decrease.
  • Infant-mortality rates declined in Wards 1, 3, 4, and 6 in 2011.
  • The post-neonatal death rate decreased by 32.4 percent.
  • The proportion of births to teenaged mothers (mothers aged 15 to 19 years) decreased by 8.6 percent between 2010 and 2011. 

Ongoing research and data collection have enabled DOH to identify factors such as low birth weight, lack of adequate prenatal care and prematurity as contributors to infant mortality in the District. DOH will use the 2011 infant-mortality data to develop hyper-local, targeted programs that address pre-conception health in the areas that saw an increase in mortality rates. DOH’s Safe Cribs and I Am a Healthy DC Mom/Dad initiatives will continue to serve as the cornerstone of the Perinatal and Infant Health programs. 

To upload and read the District of Columbia 2011 Infant Mortality Rate Report, visit www.doh.dc.gov.