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Drop in infant death rates recorded

A drop in the number of babies who die before their first birthday has come about as a result of better care and improved technology, according to official statistics.

The Office for National Statistics said 3,191 babies died before their first birthday in 2009 - 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births - with babies born to young mothers at greater risk.

Neonatal mortality rates - those babies that died within 28 days of birth - have also dropped by 60% since the 1980s, while those who died in the post-neonatal stage, aged between one month and one year, went down by 68%.

Births and death records in England and Wales revealed teenage mothers are those who have the greatest risk of seeing their babies die after birth.

A spokesperson said: "Infant mortality rates were lowest among babies of mothers aged 30-34 years (3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births) and highest among mothers aged under 20 years (5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births)."

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Office of National Statistics