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September 2006

2005 N.C. Infant Mortality Rates Released:
Minority Infant Death Rate Decreases

North Carolina’s 2005 minority infant death rate dropped
4.5 percent from the previous year, according to information recently released by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. While the rate is an improvement, minority babies are still dying at more than twice the rate of white babies.

What are the 2005 statistics?
123,040 babies were born in North Carolina in 2005 and 1,077 babies died. The statewide infant mortality rate was 8.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, the same as in 2004. The data shows that minority infant mortality decreased from 15.6 deaths per 1,000 live births to 14.9 deaths.

Why are minority babies dying?
The data shows the top three causes of infant mortality among all racial and ethnic groups are: Prematurity and low birthweight (20 percent), birth defects (17 percent) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (10 percent).

Preterm and low birthweight rates were much higher among minorities than whites
One contributing factor may be discrimination. Increasingly, researchers are finding a link between African American women’s exposure to racial discrimination and stress during their lifetime and having very low birthweight babies (Collins et al.). In addition, the "survival advantage" previously held by low birthweight African American babies (lower rates of death in the first 28 days of life) has also decreased over the years, contributing, in part, to an increasing racial disparity.

Combating Infant Mortality is Everyone’s Responsibility: You Can Help
Raising awareness about all of the leading risk factors is instrumental in saving babies' lives. Culturally appropriate literature and other resources can help. Whether it’s a brochure about the importance of folic acid before pregnancy or a booklet about getting prenatal care, raising awareness can increase knowledge and impact behavior change.

Business and industry leaders

  • Offer on-site prenatal care or flexible work schedules so women can regularly attend doctor visits
  • Educate employees about company health benefits, as well as eligibility for federal or state health programs
  • Support organizations that focus on improving women's health

Churches and places of worship

  • Organize health fairs, focusing on women, new mothers and infants, in collaboration with the local health department
  • Coordinate and provide transportation for women going to the doctor
  • Distribute educational materials promoting healthy lifestyles


  • Donate maternity, infant and children’s clothing to new parents
  • Provide support to pregnant women or new parents
  • Model positive health practices and lifestyles

Opens in new window Click here for information on North Carolina’s 2005 infant mortality rates.

Click here for information about things to do before, during and after pregnancy to increase the chances of having a healthy baby.

Click here to order free educational materials.

Collins J, David R, Handler A, Wall S, and Andes S. Very Low Bithweight in African American Infants: The Role of Maternal Exposure to Interpersonal Racial Discrimination. American Journal of Public Health. 2004; 94; 2132-2138.

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Last updated: September 2006


At a glance

N.C. Infant Death Rate Disparity over 20 years















N.C. State Center for Health Statistics

2005 N.C. Infant Death
Rate by Race

Infant Death Rate
White, Non-Hispanic 
Black, Non-Hispanic 
American Indian    

N.C. State Center for Health Statistics

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