newborn baby's feet 41881

Health officials have just reported some very good news: The number of U.S. babies who die before they reach the age of one has been on a steady decline and is currently at a historic low.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the infant mortality rate has fallen by 13 percent since 2005. In 2013, the infant mortality rate was 5.96 deaths per 1,000 births compared to 5.98 in 2012.

However, there's some not-so-good news, too: The United States still has a higher rate of infant deaths than other developed countries. For example, Sweden and Japan have fewer than 3 deaths per 1,000 births.

"[The infant mortality] rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants," reports the CDC.

Most infant deaths occur due to serious birth defects or preterm delivery (baby born too small or too early). In order to continue reducing the infant mortality rate, pregnancy health is essential, which is why the CDC recommends taking folic acid, maintaining a healthy weight and diet, and communicating with your health care provider.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn