No state will meet all three of the U.S. surgeon general's 1990 goals for reduction of infant mortality and related problems, the Children's Defense Fund said yesterday.
The fund, launching a five-year campaign against adolescent pregnancy and infant mortality, issued a massive book of statistics and projections designed to show that large numbers of infant deaths could be prevented with more federal and local spending and with better health care for pregnant women and children.
The Department of Health and Human Services, in a brief statement, said the United States is achieving "record lows" in infant mortality and will continue to do so. It added that in the past some CDF statistics had proved to be "unreliable."
The CDF, a nonprofit child advocacy group, drew strong support from polio-vaccine developer Dr. Jonas Salk and two state governors. Salk said "a massive national effort must be undertaken" to reduce infant deaths, teen pregnancies and other health problems of the young. Gov. Richard W. Riley (D-S.C.) said the campaign "must begin with the unborn child." He and Gov. Thomas Kean (R-N.J.) are both pushing legislative campaigns in their states.
According to the CDF book:
* The surgeon general in 1978 set the goal of reducing U.S. infant mortality (deaths in the first year of life) to nine per 1,000 live births. The national rate is expected to be about 10.4 for 1984, the lowest ever, according to the Public Health Service. But the CDF said that at current rates of progress at least seven states, including Virginia, would fail to get down to nine by 1990. The 1982 rate for the District of Columbia, which has started a campaign to reduce infant mortality, was 20.3. Virginia's rate was 12.9 and Maryland's 12.
* Similarly, by 1990 at least 46 jurisdictions, including the District, Maryland and Virginia, would fail to meet the goal of assuring prenatal care to nine-tenths of all women within the first three months of pregnancy. About 76 percent of such women now get this care nationwide, PHS figures show. And the District and 35 states, including Maryland and Virginia, would not meet the goal of limiting the proportion of low-birth-weight babies (under 5.5 pounds) to 5 percent of all births through health and nutrition programs.
* At least 22,000 babies would die in the United States from 1985 to 1990 as a result of being born too small to survive. But at least one-eighth of the deaths could be prevented by proper prenatal care for the mothers. Out of another 100,000 infant deaths in which low birth weight was expected to be a factor, though not necessarily the only one, 13,800 could be prevented if the mothers received early comprehensive prenatal care.
* The decline in infant mortality has slowed significantly in the past year and a half. For black infants the death rate is nearly twice that for whites. About 9 million children living in poverty lack health insurance all or part of the year, and Medicaid covers only 31 percent of poor and near-poor families.
* Nationwide, 51 percent of all births to teen-age girls (and 87.3 percent to black teens) are out of wedlock. In the District in 1982, 88.1 percent of all births to teen-agers were out of wedlock, the highest figure in the nation. The rate was 53.6 percent in Virginia and 68 percent in Maryland.