Mortality rate at record low for black infants

Published 8:49 am Thursday, August 21, 2014

The mortality rate for black infants fell to its lowest level ever, according to figures released Wednesday by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The mortality rate for black infants was 12.6 per 1,000 live births. Overall, the infant mortality rate in Alabama in 2013 was 8.6 per 1,000 live births.

Alabama recorded 58,182 live births in 2013.

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“Alabama hospitals and the medical community have worked diligently to decrease elective early term deliveries at 37 and 38 weeks gestation which helps produce better birth outcomes,” said Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer. “Other factors that improve our infant mortality rate include increased levels of prenatal care and better family planning with the advent of long-acting reversible contraceptives.”

According to the ADPH, research indicates that babies born before 37 weeks of gestation face a higher risk of health problems. The percent of births at less than 37 weeks in Alabama has been trending down steadily to 11.8 percent of all live births in 2013. This compares to 13.4 percent in 2005.

Low birth weight infants, those less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, were almost 20 times more likely to die than infants of normal weight. Ten percent of births in 2013 were of low weight, the health department reported.
Lifestyle choices of the mother, such as smoking during pregnancy, can negatively impact an unborn child. The percent of women smoking during pregnancy increased slightly from 10.7 percent to 10.8 percent.
“Alabama’s infant mortality rate has trended downward since 2007,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. “Lowering the rate is a critical part of our efforts to improve public health in Alabama. We are encouraged by today’s news, and we will work to continue efforts to reduce infant mortality in Alabama.”
Alabama’s infant mortality rate was 36.4 in 1950. The highest figure in the last decade was 10.0 in 2007, and the lowest was 8.1 in 2011.