Aboriginal infant mortality rates in Western Australia reached an historic low in 1990.
Statistics contained in a newly-released report of the Perinatal and Infant Mortality Committee showed a continued downward trend in neonatal and infant mortality rates in Aboriginals over the past ten years, Health Minister Ian Taylor said.
"Since 1980, mortality rates have fallen by 68 per cent for Aboriginal newborns in the first 28 days of life," he said.
"Mortality rates for non-Aboriginal newborns also indicate a continued downward trend.
"This reflects the substantial advances that have been made in the care of pregnant women and new babies, and in improving access to quality health services."
It was a matter for concern, however, that post-neonatal mortality rates for infants aged one month to one year had not shown a consistent improvement over the past decade, especially within the Aboriginal population.
"The mortality rate for Aboriginal infants aged one to 12 months has fallen by only three per cent over the past decade," Mr Taylor said.
"Environmental factors such as poor sanitation and poor domestic living conditions remain the greatest and most preventable cause of post-neonatal deaths in this population.
"We must continue to address these problems if the number of Aboriginal infants dying from infections is to be reduced."
Mr Taylor said the fact that post-neonatal (one to 12 months) mortality rates remained higher in country regions than in the metropolitan area was due almost entirely to higher rates of post-neonatal mortality amongst Aborigines.