Infant mortality rates vary greatly by ZIP code in Texas, even among those directly bordering each other, a study from The University of Texas System and UT Health Northeast found. Northwest Austin ZIP codes are no exception, according to the report.
Using a new analysis and mapping tool created by the researchers behind the study, users can view infant mortality rates per 1,000 births in individual ZIP codes.
Northwest Austin ZIP codes reflect the same type of variance researchers saw throughout the state. For example, the 78729 ZIP code along US 183 and Parmer Lane saw an infant mortality rate of 5.86 infant deaths per 1,000 births while the western neighboring 78750 ZIP code saw 1.72 infant deaths per 1,000 births.
Throughout the Austin area, eastern lying ZIP codes saw the highest infant mortality rates. Among the highest was the northeast ZIP code of 78754 with an infant mortality rate of 6.28 deaths per 1,000 births. In comparison, several ZIP codes primarily in Central and West Austin had zero infant deaths per 1,000 births, according to the report.
The data was collected over a four-year period from 2011-14 in communities with 400 or more births. Researchers attributed the births to the mother’s ZIP code of residence at delivery and obtained data from the Texas Department of Health Services.
Highlighting discrepancies between ZIP codes allows public health officials to pinpoint more specific areas of need when addressing infant mortality, Dr. David Lackey, chief medical officer and vice chancellor for health affairs for the UT System, said in a news release.
"What this kind of analysis should enable us to do, moving forward, is to even more precisely identify what best practices to emulate, where to target our interventions, and how best to deploy our resources," Lackey stated in the release.
View a summary of the statewide report here.
Note: This post has been updated for clarity.