MORE Costa Rican babies than everare surviving their first year of life. Lastyear, the infant-mortality rate was 9.25 per1,000 babies born according to theNational Statistics and Census Institute(INEC).Of the more than 72,000 babies born,668 died before their first birthday.The rate is a decrease from 2003,when 10.1 babies per 1,000 died – 737 outof nearly 72,400 born.The infant-mortality rate is a demographicand epidemiological indicator;INEC said in a statement, meaning it is asound reflection of a population’s livingconditions.The decrease is part of a long trendtoward healthy babies in the country. The1950 infant-mortality rate was 90.15 deathsper 1,000 babies born. Two decades later,the 1970 rate was 61.52, then in 1980 itdropped sharply to 19.06. By 1990 the ratewas 14.78 and in 2000, 10.21.Using the numbers from 2004, CostaRica shows the fifth lowest infant-mortalityrate in Latin America. The U.S.Population Reference Bureau reports thatCuba has the lowest rate in Latin America,at 6.5 per 1,000, followed by the islandsGuadalupe, at 7.6 per 1,000 andMartinique, at 7.5 per 1,000, and finallyChile with 8.3 per 1,000.Male babies die more readily thanfemales. Ten in every 1,000 males borndied, whereas 8.31 of every 1,000females died.Most deaths occur within the first 28days of birth (6.73 per 1,000) whereas2.52 per 1,000 die between the first monthand the end of the first year.Considered geographically,Guanacaste has the highest rate in thecountry, at 11.24 per 1,000, followed byPuntarenas and Heredia, while the lowestrate, 8.03 per 1,000, occurs in Cartago.The main causes of death are conditionsthat arise in the perinatal period,accounting for 49.4% of deaths, followedby congenital deformities, which accountfor 30.69%.