California’s infant mortality rate has hit a record low according to numbers from the state Department of Public Health (DPH) released on Tuesday.
The data is for 2010, the most recent year available.
The death rate was 4.7 per 1,000 babies under the age of 1 year, down from 4.9 percent the year before. That means that not only is the death rate the lowest its been in California's history — it's still decreasing.
“This is something to be greatly celebrated in California," Dr. Ron Chapman, head of the state D.P.H., told the California Capitol Network. He attributed part of the declining mortality rate to a drop in premature births from 10.4 percent in 2009 to 10 percent the following year.
“Some babies, when they’re born early, some of their organs are not fully developed," Chapman said. "They can suffer a number of health consequences that unfortunately lead to death in the first year.”
African-American babies experienced the largest decline in mortality by one full percentage point, but it was still twice as high as the overall rate.
Chapman said California had the country’s fourth-lowest infant mortality rate.