04.18.1310:20 AM ET

Infant Mortality Down In U.S.

Steepest decline among babies born to black mothers.

Finally, some good news. A new CDC report shows that the U.S. infant mortality rate fell by 12 percent from 2005 to 2011, after several years without progress. The steepest decline, 16 percent, was among babies born to black mothers. Researchers cite several reasons for the improvement. The rate of premature births has declined for five years in a row, after peaking at 12.8 percent in 2006. (In 2009, two-thirds of all infant deaths in the United States were among preterm babies.) Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is down 20 percent, in part due to better education about preventing it. Government programs may have played a role as well. As The New York Times reports, Washington, D.C., which expanded a home-visit program for poor pregnant women and increased other efforts aimed at maternal and child health, saw the biggest drop in infant deaths: from 14.05 per 1,000 births in 2005 to 7.86 in 2010.