Searchable Map Tracks Infant Mortality Rates in Texas
By David Doolittle

Did you know that some Texas ZIP codes experienced no infant deaths between 2011 and 2014?

Meanwhile, other ZIP codes saw 1 percent of infants die before their first birthday.

Infant mortality rates vary dramatically even across neighboring ZIP codes, according to a searchable map released today and created by The University of Texas System and UT Health Northeast.

 Ft Worth Infant Mortality Map TMT

The first-of-its-kind map and related analysis show data for communities with 400 or more births based on the mother’s ZIP code of residence at delivery from 2011 to 2014, researchers said. The map uses data from the Texas Vital Statistics Linked Birth and Death records during that time.

Among the findings:

  • In Fort Worth’s 76164 ZIP code, the infant mortality rate was more than six times higher than in neighboring 76107;
  • Black mothers in Houston had an eight-fold difference in infant mortality rates across the city;
  • Of the three major racial/ethnic groups in Texas, Hispanic women have the lowest rate of infant mortality, although their rates varied greatly based on where they lived when they were pregnant; and
  • Non-Hispanic black families in Texas and the United States are disproportionately affected by infant mortality.

“What this reveals is that the infant mortality picture is dramatically more complex than we knew,” said David Lakey, MD, chief medical officer and vice chancellor for health affairs for the UT System. “The state average, which is lower than the national average, obscures ZIP codes where rates are terribly high. Some of the higher city or county level rates, on the other hand, have obscured the variation within communities, including neighborhoods where rates are very low.”

Although the map shows the wide range of infant mortality, it does not show why the variation exists. Researchers will continue to work toward understanding those causes and what can be done to reduce infant mortality rates overall, UT System officials said.

More information on the map and its research can be found on the UT System’s website.

 

Last Updated On

January 18, 2018

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David Doolittle

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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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