State Health Department officials say Missouri’s infant mortality rate increased by 15 percent last year from 7.4 per 1,000 live births in 2001 to 8.5 percent in 2002. The Missouri increase was much larger among white infants than among African-American infants. The white infant death rate increased by 22 percent from 5.8 in 2001 to 7.1 per 1,000 live births in 2002. The African-American rate increased just 2 percent from 16.8 to 17.2. The infant death rate among blacks was still 2.4 times higher than the white rate in 2002. Officials say that while they are concerned about the increase, one year does not necessarily indicate a trend.
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