US Infant Mortality Falling

And here’s some excellent news:

Infant mortality in the U.S. has declined 12% since 2005 after holding steady for many years, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The infant mortality rate in 2011 was 6.05 deaths per every 1,000 live births, down from 6.87 in 2005, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

It’s noteworthy that the largest declines occurred in southern states and among African-Americans. Those groups still have the highest infant mortality rates (and of course the south has an above average African-American population share so to an extent this is two manifestations of the same phenomenon) but improvements mean that infant mortality inequality is in decline.

Of course, with Medicaid coverage set to expand significantly but many southern states set to opt out I think inequality may grow again in the near future. On the other hand, over the longer term I’m confident every state will accept Medicaid expansion money and in general the Affordable Care Act is almost certain to drive further reductions in infant deaths.