Mayor Vincent C. Gray and officials from the Washington, D.C. Department of Health announced April 26 that the District’s infant mortality rate has declined to a historic low of 8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

“This is very good news for the District of Columbia,” Gray said at a news conference. “This report tells us that our public-health programs are working well. It also tells us that long-term investments in public health – particularly in Wards 7 and 8 and among our most vulnerable populations – are paying dividends.”

The infant mortality rate is the best-known indicator of a community’s health status. The measure is used nationally and internationally to compare the health outcomes of jurisdictions and communities.

The mayor and Health Department Director Mohammad Akhter said the reduction in infant mortality was attributable to a number of factors, including reduced smoking by pregnant women, expanded and increased access to prenatal services and a reduction in teen births.

“I am proud of the fine work done by the District’s executive leadership team, community-based organizations and medical providers to greatly reduce the number of infant deaths that occurred in the city,” Akhter said.

The overall reduction in the District’s infant mortality rate is also due to the large decline in infant deaths to African-American mothers specifically. The rate among that demographic declined from 14.2 in 2009 to 10.7 in 2010.

To read the District of Columbia 2010 Infant Mortality Rate Report, visit www.doh.dc.gov