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Russian government says infant mortality down
MOSCOW, January 27

(RIA Novosti) - Infant and maternal mortality rates in Russia have been falling steadily in the past four years, but have not yet reached the European average, a senior Russian health official said Friday. Deputy Minister of Health and Social Development Vladimir Starodubov told a news conference that the infant mortality rate in 2005 was 11 deaths per 1,000 live births, as compared with 11.6 deaths in 2004, 12.4 deaths in 2003, and 13.3 in 2002. The average rate for the 25-member European Union was 4.5 in 2004, according to Eurostat, the Union's statistical body. Maternal mortality was 23.4 deaths per 100,000 newborns in 2004 and 31.9 deaths in 2003, he said. According to Starodubov, the southern republic of Daghestan posted the highest birth rate among Russia's regions in 2005 when 40,695 babies were born here. The figures indicate a reverse of the upward tendency shown by the infant and maternal mortality rates following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. The rise was largely attributed to poverty, alcoholism, and Russia's ailing health care system.