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Oct. 2, 2012
TOPEKA The state's infant death rate fell slightly last year, from 6.3 to 6.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to statistics released today by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
While that's the lowest rate since infant deaths were first tracked in 1911, it's still higher than the national rate of 6.1 last year, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of 39,628 births in 2011, 247 babies died. That was down from 253 deaths out of 40,439 births in 2010.
Dr. Dennis Cooley — who leads a panel charged with finding ways to lower Kansas' infant mortality rate — said the new numbers were encouraging, but much more remains to be done.
"I think this is encouraging, but we still see the disparities along racial and ethnic lines," Cooley said. In recent years, Kansas' death rate for black infants has been the worst in the nation.
"Our rates have been coming down now since 2007, but there's a lot of improvement we can do. There are European countries that have rates of two to three (deaths) per 1,000 — why can't we? Why can't Kansas have those kind of rates?" Cooley said.
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