North Carolina saw its infant mortality rate drop in 2010 to its lowest level ever recorded, according to state officials.
Officials there say this is tremendous progress given that nearly 25 years ago the state had one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the nation.
The recent figures show a continued decline from 7.9 deaths per 1,000 infants in 2009 to 7 per 1,000 in 2010.
Speaking to the Associated Press, the state’s Health Director Dr. Jeff Engle said the fall off in infant mortality was a “direct result of long-term, sustained investments in promising to reduce infant deaths and eliminate disparities in birth outcomes.”
Engle attributed much of the decline to a state program called Healthy Beginnings, which promotes safe child rearing practices.
North Carolina, the AP points out, is now very close to the national average of 6.8 percent.
Some advocates in the state warn, however, that looming budget cuts could reverse the trend.
The most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show Washington, D.C. with this highest infant mortality rate at 12.8, followed by Mississippi at 10.6. Utah and Washington state had the lowest with 4.9.