NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee health officials say the state's infant mortality rate dropped in 2018, but it still exceeded the national rate.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 38 fewer infant deaths in the state in 2018 than in 2017.

Officials say the Tennessee rate fell to 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 from a rate of 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017 and 2016. Officials say Tennessee's current rate still exceeds the national rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Additionally, Tennessee's rate of death of black infants continues to be nearly double that of white infants.

Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before his or her first birthday.

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