Cuba records lowest infant mortality rate

Posted: 8 January 2002

According to figures from the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, Cuba - along with Canada - now has the lowest infant mortality rate in the Americas.

Cuba has recorded its lowest infant mortality rate for four decades, with 6.2 children in every 1,000 dying before the age of one.

The United States is second with seven in every 1,000 children. Guatemala has the highest infant mortality rate with 45 in every 1,000 children.

The infant mortality rate, which includes all the deaths in the first 12 months of life, is one of the international indicators used to measure the population's state of health, along with life expectancy at birth, which in Cuba is 76 years.

According to Cuban experts and international agencies consulted by the Cuban daily newspaper, Granma, the sterling attention given to pregnant women, including pre-conception services, followed up by prenatal and postnatal care, has led to a low incidence of maternal deaths, reduced in 2001 to 58 women (20 less than the previous year), for a national rate of 4.2 per 10,000 live births (5.4 in 2000). The principal causes of death were ectopic pregnancies, embolisms in the amniotic fluid, when it enters the circulatory system, and heart attacks.

Eight provinces show infant mortality rates equal to or below the national average for 2001. In first place is Matanzas (4.4), followed by Ciego de Avila (4.8), Granma (5.0), Cienfuegos and Las Tunas (5.7), Pinar del Río (5.8) and Santiago de Cuba and Villa Clara (6.2).

In 2000, with a rate of 7.2 and 143,528 births, 1,039 deaths were recorded in Cuba. The reduction to the 6.2 rate in 2001 signifies that the lives of 178 more infants were saved.

Source: Granma, and BBC On-line, January 3, 2001.