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New Jersey Health Statistics

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Improve Infant, Child Health and Maternal Outcomes

There has been a general decline in infant deaths over the past two decades. Despite a minor upturn in 1996, the infant death rate for the total population is at an all-time low and has been below the target since 1995. The rate for the black population decreased in 1997 after an increase in 1996, but it is uncertain that the rate will continue to decrease quickly enough to achieve the target by 2000.


Percentages of both total and black low birth weight babies have been increasing over the time period 1985 through 1997. This trend has occurred in spite of the decline in total infant mortality over the same period. This is unexpected, as infant mortality is usually correlated with low birth weight. These findings are thought to be a result of technological advancements in caring for underweight infants in neonatal intensive care units. Decreasing the percentage of low birth weight babies is related to the degree to which women obtain early, adequate prenatal care. If present trends in the pattern of late or no entry into the prenatal care system continue, these objectives related to low birth weight will probably not be met.


The percentages of both total and black newborns with a weight at birth under 1,500 grams have not declined over the period; each percentage was higher in 1997 than in 1985. If current trends continue, it appears unlikely that either objective will be met.


The percent of mothers of all races who received no prenatal care remained virtually unchanged over the past ten years, while the percent of black mothers for whom no prenatal care was reported has more than doubled. At current trends, it appears unlikely that the year 2000 objective for black mothers will be met and uncertain that the objective for mothers of all races can be achieved.



The percentages of mothers of all races, black mothers, and Hispanic mothers who reported receiving early prenatal care have been fluctuating, but the overall trend does not suggest growth in the percentage of women getting early prenatal care. Analysis of data on entry into prenatal care is complicated by the relatively large amount of missing data, however, it appears unlikely that the objectives for early prenatal care will be met for any targeted race or ethnic group or by the total population by the year 2000.

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