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Urban Black Babies At Risk

Black infants in major U.S. cities are up to five times more likely than white infants to die in their first year of life, the government reported Thursday.

A 1995-98 study of the 60 largest U.S. cities found a median infant death rate of 13.9 deaths per 1,000 live births for blacks, compared with 6.4 for whites and 5.9 for Hispanics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Depending on the city, black infants were 1.4 to 4.8 times more likely than white infants to die in their first year, the CDC said.

The CDC report is in line with previous studies that have found higher infant-mortality rates for black babies.

Health officials believe a mix of social, biological and environmental factors account for the racial disparity. Black mothers were more likely to have infants with very low birth weight, accounting for about two-thirds of the gap, the CDC said.

Overall infant mortality rates tended to be higher in cities in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. Rates were lower in the West.

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