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Slower Decline of Infant Death Rate Blots U.S. Health Picture

March 22, 1985|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The nation's overall health picture looks bright--with the expected life span at a record high--but new steps must be taken to reduce infant death rates, particularly among blacks, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret M. Heckler said today.

Heckler released the government's annual health report card that showed that Americans can expect to live longer, 74.7 years for a child born in 1983, that stroke and heart attack deaths are down dramatically, and that infant mortality is declining, although at slower rates than in the past.

"Overall, the news is good--our nation's 'health grades' are very good indeed," Heckler told a news conference.

But she said although the infant mortality rate is at a record low, about 10.6 deaths per 1,000 live births for 1984, it is declining more slowly than in the past.

Heckler said the government will send public health teams to states that ask assistance in fighting infant deaths, and will begin a new education campaign to tell women of the dangers to their babies of expectant mothers smoking during pregnancy.

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