A black or Native American infant stands twice the chance of dying compared with its white counterpart in Washington.
That’s according to a report issued recently from the Washington State Department of Health. The report was based on 2011-2015 data.
Overall, Washington ranks eighth in the nation for the lowest infant deaths with 4.8 per 1,000 live births.
Pierce County was one of three counties with higher than average mortality rates.
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Infant mortality is defined as death of a baby before its first birthday. The leading causes of infant deaths included congenital malformation, sudden unexpected infant death, short gestation and low birth weight.
The rates — per 1,000 live births — are 8.9 for black infants, 8.4 for Native American and 4.2 for white.
The health department said that environmental and social factors can negatively influence infant mortality. Those include educational level, income level, housing safety and employment.
Risk factors for infant mortality
A baby is more likely to die before his/her first birthday if the mother:
▪ Smoked while she was pregnant.
▪ Experienced poverty.
▪ Had a low level of educational attainment.
▪ Was younger than 20 or older than 40 years of age.
▪ Was obese prior to pregnancy.
▪ Had diabetes.