Infant Mortality Way Down for Black Women in North Carolina

The state reached its lowest rate in its history.

Posted: 11/17/2011 02:26 PM EST
infant mortality, pregnancy, black women

So many stories about our health relay bad news, but there are successes being made. One of those success stories comes out of North Carolina.


For the first time in the state's history, infant mortality rates are at an all-time low. According to recent data, the state went from 7.9 deaths for every 1,000 live births to 7 per 1,000 births — an 11 percent drop. Even better: The largest drop in deaths was among African-American babies — almost a 20 percent decrease.


North Carolina's Gov. Beverly Perdue is very pleased with her state's progress. She said, "These encouraging numbers underscore the results when we invest in education, including public health education. The statistics also show the foresight of our steps to protect the most vulnerable in our society."


So what is the state doing differently?


According to The Pilot, there are a series of programs throughout the state that address this issue, including Healthy Beginnings, a public health program that focuses on providing accessible care, quality medical care and health literacy and education for women. Last year, not one of the 900 babies born to African-American participants died.


They reported:


North Carolina's Healthy Beginnings program is a notable initiative contributing to the state's progress. The program supports 12 communities working to improve birth outcomes in minority families, with an emphasis on breast-feeding, consumption of multivitamins with folic acid, infant safe sleep practices, women's healthy weight, reproductive life planning and elimination of tobacco use.


The state also has four federally funded Healthy Start projects (Baby Love Plus and Healthy Start Corps) in 15 counties that focus on improving birth outcomes primarily within African-American and American-Indian communities. This long-term investment has resulted in the vast majority of those counties showing an improvement in 2010 in birth outcomes among minority families.


Of significance, this year's report noted a 46 percent reduction in reported cases of SIDS — down from 98 deaths in 2009 to 53 in 2010, according to the release.


And while this is good news for the Tar Heel State, other states around the country are not faring as well. And the issue has gone mostly underreported.


Yet this past year, has reported extensively on this issue. Back in April, we reported on a study conducted in California that stated that for every 46 out of every 100,000 live African-American births from 2006 to 2008 ended in death, compared to the rates for Asian, white and Latino women, which range between 9 and 13 per 100,000. They also concluded that African-Americans have a higher infant death rate than Sri Lanka.


Another study conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine found that pregnancy-related mortality rates were seven times higher for Blacks and twice as high for Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islander women compared to whites.


To learn more about maternal deaths and how they can be prevented, go here.

(Photo: Photodisc/Getty Images)