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STATE PROGRAM GETS PART OF CREDIT FOR RECORD LOW IN INFANT MORTALITY RATE

Utah's infant mortality rate is at an all-time low.

A report released Wednesday by the Utah Department of Health shows that the number of infant deaths declined to 287 in 1988 from 312 in 1987 - an 8 percent decline that translates to an infant-death rate of 8 per 1,000 births.Nationally, the 1988 provisional death rate for infants remained statistically constant at 9.9.

John Brockert, director of the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, said the decline in infant mortality is especially significant because during the same period a 2 percent increase was recorded in the number of live births to Utah residents.

In 1988, there were 36,089 live births, compared with 35,285 in 1987 - the first annual increase in live births since 1982.

Officials attribute the drop in infant mortality in part to a new health department program.

"We are pleased to see a decrease in infant mortality," said Dr. Peter van Dyck, director of the Division of Family Health Services."We believe that our expanded prenatal-care program may have been a factor."

That program, also known through an extensive cooperative public awareness campaign called "Baby Your Baby," has extended prenatal care to all pregnant women whose incomes are below the federal poverty level. It also provides health care for their babies.

Other provisional 1988 data released by the health department include:

-A 3.6 percent increase in marriages. (There were 17,347 last year).

-An 11.2 percent decline in divorces reported, 7,892 compared with 8,985 in 1987.

Brockert believes a change in reporting responsibility early in 1989 may have resulted in a failure to get all 1988 divorce certificates filed.