CDC Analyzes Neonatal Heart Defect Deaths by Race

Racial differences by gestational age seen for deaths from congenital defects
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The racial and gestational age differences in neonatal congenital heart defect deaths are significant, but the causes of these differences are not clear, according to a report published in the Sept. 24 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Approximately 1 percent of infants in the United States are diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, and these infants make up the largest proportion of infant mortality due to birth defects. The report summarizes neonatal mortality attributable to congenital heart defects by maternal race and gestational age, using U.S. birth and infant death data for 2003 to 2006.

Among preterm infants, neonatal mortality due to heart defects was 30 percent lower for infants born to black mothers than for infants born to white mothers. Conversely, among term infants, neonatal mortality due to heart defects was 20 percent higher for infants born to black mothers than for those born to white mothers. The reasons for these racial differences in neonatal mortality attributable to congenital heart defects are not clear, according to the report.

"The role of gestational age in differences in neonatal mortality among infants born to white and black mothers is unclear and requires further investigation, including assessment of differences in prenatal diagnosis, prevalence at birth of congenital heart defects, and reporting of causes of death," the authors write.

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