Maternal Characteristics and Infant Outcomes in Appalachia and the Delta

September 25, 2019

Questions for Anne Driscoll, Lead Author of ”Maternal Characteristics and Infant Outcomes in Appalachia and the Delta.”

Q: Why did you decide to do focus your report on maternal characteristics and infant outcomes in the Appalachia and Delta?

AD: The general goal was to explore regional patterns in health risk factors and outcomes.


Q: How did the data vary by region?

AD: In general, maternal characteristics and infant outcomes were the worst in the Delta, followed by Appalachia; they were generally best in the rest of the U.S.


Q: Was there a specific finding in your report that surprised you?

AD: Although outcomes did vary across regions for infants born to non-Hispanic white and black women, they did differ between Appalachia and the Delta for infants of Hispanic women and usually did not differ between these two regions and the rest of the U.S.


Q: What is the take home message for this report?

AD: Differences in maternal characteristics account for some, but not all, of the differences in infant outcomes between Appalachia, the Delta and the rest of the U.S.


Q: Why do you think there are differences in maternal characteristics among the Delta, Appalachia and the rest of the U.S.?

AD: Appalachia and the Delta are two of the most disadvantaged regions in the U.S., with higher poverty, poorer overall health (behaviors and outcomes) and lower educational levels than the U.S. as a whole. We would expect that the characteristics of women giving birth in these regions to reflect these patterns (e.g., lower educational attainment, higher rates of obesity and smoking, and higher rates of WIC receipt and Medicaid).

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2017 Final Deaths, Leading Causes of Death and Life Tables Reports Released

June 24, 2019

NCHS released a report that presents the final 2017 data on U.S. deaths, death rates, life expectancy, infant mortality, and trends, by selected characteristics such as age, sex, Hispanic origin and race, state of residence, and cause of death.

Key Findings:

  • In 2017, a total of 2,813,503 deaths were reported in the United States.
  • The age-adjusted death rate was 731.9 deaths per 100,000 U.S. standard population, an increase of 0.4% from the 2016 rate.
  • Life expectancy at birth was 78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from the 2016 rate.
  • Life expectancy decreased from 2016 to 2017 for non-Hispanic white males (0.1 year) and non-Hispanic black males (0.1), and increased for non-Hispanic black females (0.1).
  • Age-specific death rates increased in 2017 from 2016 for age groups 25–34, 35–44, and 85 and over, and decreased for age groups under 1 and 45–54.
  • The 15 leading causes of death in 2017 remained the same as in 2016 although, two causes exchanged ranks.
  • Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, the 12th leading cause of death in 2016, became the 11th leading cause of death in 2017, while Septicemia, the 11th leading cause of death in 2016, became the 12th leading cause of death in 2017.
  • The infant mortality rate, 5.79 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017, did not change significantly from the rate of 5.87 in 2016.

NCHS also released the 2017 U.S. Life Tables and Leading Causes of Death Reports.


Infant Mortality by Age at Death in the United States, 2016

November 16, 2018

Questions for Danielle Ely, Ph.D., Health Statistician and Author of “Infant Mortality by Age at Death in the United States, 2016

Q:  What made you decide to focus on the age when infants die in this new analysis of infant mortality in the United States?

DE:  We focused this study on the age when infants die for a number for reasons. Age at death is an important factor in the risk of infant mortality. One important statistic is that infants are more likely to die before 28 days of age (neonatal deaths) than infants who live to 28 days and older (postneonatal deaths.) By presenting infant mortality rates by age at death, we show the differences in the likelihood of death between these two infant groups — information that can help inform the U.S. Public Health Community, families, and physicians on this critical age factor in infant lives and deaths.


Q:  What sort of trend data do you have for the demographics and the cause of death data in your new study on infant mortality at the age of death?

DE:  We have interesting trend data here in this report, as well as other public-use resources that are available for further research and data. Our new report looks at the overall trends in infant, neonatal and postneonatal mortality rates from 2007 (the most recent peak in infant mortality) through 2016. For 2016, we looked at infant mortality rates by mother’s race and Hispanic origin and age and cause of death.


Q:  Was there a result in your study’s analysis of infant mortality at the age of death that you hadn’t expected and that really surprised you?

DE:  An important finding in this study is the lack of improvements to infant mortality. Since infant mortality had been on the decline in the United States for much of the last two decades, it was surprising that the infant mortality rate did not show significant declines from 2011-2016. Another recent report also showed a similar lack of improvement in fetal/perinatal mortality rates from 2014 through 2016.


Q:  What differences, if any, did you see in infant mortality among race and ethnic groups, or any other demographics?

DE:  The sometimes substantial differences among race and Hispanic origin groups in this report on infant mortality are noteworthy. We found that infants of non-Hispanic black mothers continue to have total, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rates that were more than two times as high as infants of non-Hispanic white, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic mothers. Infants of American Indian or Alaska Native mothers had the next highest rates and had postneonatal mortality rates that were similar to infants of non-Hispanic black mothers.


Q:  What would you say is the take-home message of this report?

DE:  The most important message from this data brief is the lack of improvement in total infant mortality rates since 2011. Neonatal infants of all race and Hispanic origin groups we examined have higher mortality rates than postneonatal infants. Further, infants of non-Hispanic black women continue to have a higher risk of mortality than infants of non-Hispanic white, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native, or Hispanic mothers. This information can further our understanding of current infant mortality trends and provide information on where improvements can be made.


QuickStats: Infant Mortality Rate, by State — United States, 2016

August 27, 2018

In 2016, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.87 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

The rate ranged from 3.47 in Vermont to 9.03 in Alabama. Rates in two other states were <4.00 (New Hampshire [3.67] and Massachusetts [3.94]).

Higher rates were primarily in the southern states. In addition to Alabama, two other states had rates >8.00 (Arkansas [8.20] and Mississippi [8.67]).

SOURCE: National Vital Statistics System. Linked birth/infant death period files, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/linked-birth.htm.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6733a7.htm


Differences Between Rural and Urban Areas in Mortality Rates for the Leading Causes of Infant Death: United States, 2013–2015

February 15, 2018

Questions for Danielle Ely, Ph.D., “Differences Between Rural and Urban Areas in Mortality Rates for the Leading Causes of Infant Death: United States, 2013–2015

Q: Why did you decide to examine differences in mortality rates for the leading causes of infant death between rural and urban areas in the United States?

DE: After finding differences in infant mortality rates between rural and urban places in previous work, we thought causes of death might also differ by urbanization level. Although previous research looked at infant mortality rates by age of death and residence, there had not been research on leading causes of infant death by rural-urban status.


Q: Can you describe the differences in infant, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rates?

DE: Infant mortality rates are based on all infant deaths. Neonatal mortality specifies the infant was less than 28 days of age at time of death and postneonatal mortality rates are those infant deaths that occurred between 28 days and 11 months of age. In this data brief, as in previous research, we see higher neonatal mortality rates than postneonatal mortality rates. Indeed, neonatal mortality rates were nearly twice as high as postneonatal mortality rates across urbanization levels. Further, there are distinct differences in the leading causes of death for neonatal and postneonatal mortality. Although both include congenital malformations, neonatal deaths are generally associated with more birth related medical issues whereas postneonatal deaths are generally associated with more causes external from the infant.


Q: Overall, how did the mortality rate for the five leading causes of infant death vary by urbanization level?

DE: Rural areas have higher infant, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rates than urban areas. However, when we drill down by the leading causes of death by age of death, there are specific causes of death where infants in rural areas do experience lower mortality rates, such as mortality from low birthweight and from maternal complications. However, there are markedly higher mortality rates for both neonatal and postneonatal infants from congenital malformations, sudden infant death syndrome, and unintentional injuries in rural places than in urban.


Q: Were there any surprises in the findings from this report?

DE: Although we expected differences in mortality rates by the leading causes of death, I think we were surprised by the marked differences for some causes; particularly SIDS mortality rates being twice as high in rural places than in large urban counties. I also think some of the most interesting findings in the report are related to how rural infant mortality rates are generally higher than rates in urban areas, but there are some causes for which rural places have similar or even lower rates compared to urban places.


Q: What is the take home message in this report?

DE: The message that should be taken from this report is that different types of places– rural and urban– have different issues when it comes to the leading causes of infant death. Although the leading causes are generally the same across areas, there are substantial differences in rates, meaning different public health interventions may be needed for people in rural areas compared to people in urban areas to address these issues.


QuickStats: Infant Mortality Rate, by Urbanization Level — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2007 and 2015

October 20, 2017

In both 2007 and 2015, infant mortality rates were highest in rural counties (7.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births and 6.8, respectively).

Rates were lower in small and medium urban counties (7.1 in 2007 and 6.4 in 2015) and lowest in large urban counties (6.4 in 2007 and 5.4 in 2015).

For all three urbanization levels, infant mortality rates were significantly lower in 2015, compared with rates in 2007.

Source: National Vital Statistics System, linked birth/infant death period files, 2007 and 2015.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6641a8.htm


Infant Mortality Rates in Rural and Urban Areas in the United States, 2014

September 6, 2017

Questions for Danielle Ely, Ph.D., Statistician and Lead Author of “Infant Mortality Rates in Rural and Urban Areas in the United States, 2014

Q: What is the most significant finding in your study?

DE: The most significant finding in this study was the consistency with which infants in rural areas have significantly higher mortality rates than infants in urban places. Higher rural infant mortality was generally observed by race and Hispanic origin, mother’s age, and by infant age at death.


Q: Why are infant mortality rates higher in rural areas vs urban areas?

DE: Generally, previous research shows that health outcomes are poorer in rural places compared with urban places and this study is consistent with those findings. This study did not examine the factors that might be influencing the higher rural infant mortality in comparison with urban infant mortality.


Q: Is this surprising, or are problems with poverty, substance abuse, and health care that much worse in rural areas?

DE: Higher infant mortality in rural places compared with urban places is not necessarily surprising based on the number of other poor health outcomes (such as higher overall mortality rates, higher rates of disability) that rural residents have in comparison to urban residents.


Q: Are there any theories in the literature as to why this infant mortality disparity exists between rural and urban?

DE: Given there are some poorer health outcomes in rural areas, it is possible more pregnant women in rural areas have poorer general health than pregnant women in urban areas that can lead to poor infant outcomes. Further, there is generally less access to health care due to distance and number of providers available in rural areas, which can impact health outcomes.


Q: Any other findings of note that you find significant?

DE: These findings highlight the importance of place for infant survival and suggests the need for including place in research on health outcomes, as well as a need for further research on the greater risk of infant death in rural settings.