Alabama's infant mortality rate continues to climb

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's infant mortality rate has risen again and health officials are anxious to get to the bottom of the problem.

The 2007 rate of 10 deaths per 1,000 live births was considerably higher than the 2006 rate of nine deaths per 1,000 births. White babies died at the highest rate in more than a decade, from 6.7 to 8.0 and the rate for black babies also increased, going from 14.3 to 14.6.

For Hispanic infants the rate was up slightly from 7.2 to 7.3 Health officials say maternal smoking carries much of the blame.

Smoking was more prevalent among white mothers than black women during pregnancy, with black teens smoking the least.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)