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South Carolina's Infant Mortality Rate Decreased in 2017

Nov. 28, 2018

New data released today by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shows that South Carolina's infant mortality dropped nearly 8 percent in 2017. The rate decreased from 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 to 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. Thirty fewer infants died in 2017 than in the previous year.

Disparities in the rate of infant mortality by race persisted in 2017. Nine black infants died per 1,000 live births, compared to 5.2 white infants per 1,000 live births.

“We want all mothers and babies to have the opportunity for the best health outcomes possible,” said Dr. Lilian Peake, DHEC’s director of Public Health. “By identifying the gaps in outcomes, specific interventions can be designed to overcome them.”

From 2016 to 2017, there was a 24.7 percent decrease in the number of infant deaths from birth defects (from 85 deaths in 2016 to 64 deaths in 2017). The number of deaths due to preterm birth/low birthweight decreased by 8.8 percent (from 57 in 2016 to 52 in 2017). However, the number of infant deaths due to maternal complications of pregnancy increased 70 percent (from 20 in 2016 to 34 in 2017).

“While some risk factors for infant mortality are related to access to care, there are many practical steps that women can take before and during pregnancy, as well as things that caregivers can do after a baby’s birth to help prevent some types of infant deaths,” according to Kimberly Seals, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. She recommends the following:

  1. Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should take a multivitamin that includes at least 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.
  2. Caregivers should never smoke around babies, as second-hand smoke can contribute to sudden, unexplained infant death.
  3. The A,B,Cs of Safe Sleep should be followed to help minimize the risk of sleep related infant death. Place your baby alone (without any toys or other objects), on their back in their crib to sleep.

DHEC works with other dedicated partners like the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA), the S.C Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the March of Dimes South Carolina Chapter and others to explore and implement strategies to improve the health of moms and babies in South Carolina and give every child the best chance for a happy and healthy life. For more detailed 2017 Infant Mortality data, visit DHEC’s website here.




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