D.C. infant mortality rate down to historic lows

Good news for the district: the infant-mortality rate has declined to historic lows.

The infant-mortality rate is down to a rate of 7.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, in comparison to last year’s 8.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

“The rate of infant mortality is the best-known indicator of community’s health status,” Mayor Gray said.

The decline is part of the district’s greater “Healthy People 2010” initiative that in part, aims to reduce infant mortality rates.

“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,” Gray said.

Broken down by Ward, the infant mortality rate in 2011 ranged from 12.9 deaths per 1,000 births in Ward 5, to{}zero deaths in the affluent Ward 3.

The decrease in infant mortality was attributed to: An increase in public-health initiatives for expectant mothers, a drastic (86.3 percent) decrease in pregnant mothers smoking, a 50 percent increase in breastfeeding mothers, a reduction (8.6 percent) in teen births in D.C., and increased availability of D.C. primary-care prenatal services.