U.S. infant mortality from all causes rose 3% in the year 2021 to 2022 — the first increase since 2001, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The trend represents a sharp reversal, as between 2000 and 2020, infant deaths decreased by 21%.

Danielle Ely, Ph.D., a co-author of the NCHS report, told Decatur, Illinois, TV station WAND he wasn’t sure if the increase was an anomaly or the start of a new, disturbing trend.

“The study provides a description of some of the basic relationships between risk factors and infant mortality rates,” said Ely, adding that it was just a “first step in determining what is going on with infant health in our country.”

Ely suggested the study could be “used to identify some of the higher risk subgroups, which might be used later on for prevention efforts.”

The only conclusion evident from the NCHS data is that something changed in 2021 — but what?

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