State sees drop in infant mortality rate

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The Associated Press

SANTA FE — The infant mortality rate in New Mexico has dropped significantly last year, but health officials said this week that the change is not rare.

The latest figures show a decrease from 6.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012 to 5.4 in 2013, the state Department of Health said Tuesday.

“The infant mortality rate in New Mexico can vary substantially from year to year,” Health Secretary Retta Ward said in a news release. “Steep increases or decreases from year to year are not uncommon.”

The department is trying to understand the causes and implement initiatives to prevent or decrease infant deaths, Ward said.

Mark Kassouf, bureau chief for the state’s Vital Records and Health Statistics, said the infant mortality rate has been stable overall.

“Over the last about 20 years, we’ve only had two spikes that went past the national average, so it’s been a fairly consistent ride for the state in infant mortality,” Kassouf told the Santa Fe New.

The 2012 rate at the time surpassed the national average of 6 deaths per 1,000 births. It was considered unusually high, compared with an average of 5.3 deaths between 2009 and 2011.