Infant Mortality in North Carolina Overview
2011 Infant Mortality Statistics
Causes and Risk Factors
NC Center for Health Statistics 2011 Tables
Infant mortality is the death of a baby before its first
birthday. Infant mortality rates are the number of infant
deaths for every 1,000 live births within a given timeframe
(usually a year). Infant mortality is thought to be a social problem with medical consequences and is often considered a measure of the general health of a community.
In 2011, North Carolina's infant mortality rate was the second lowest in the state's history. 7.2 babies died in 2011 for every 1,000 born alive. This is up 2.9% from 2010 but down 8.9% from 2009. It is a dramatic 43 percent reduction since 1988 when North Carolina
had the highest infant mortality rate in the nation. However, North Carolina continues to exceed the national average (6.14 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010.)
The three major causes of infant deaths are: prematurity and low birthweight, birth defects and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Prematurity (born too early) and low birthweight (born too small) declined slightly in 2011, 12 percent of babies were born less than 37 weeks gestation compared with 12.6 percent in 2010.
The percentage of low birthweight babies (less than 5.5 pounds) remains the same as in 2010 (9.1 percent of all births.)
Of increasing concern is the difference in death rates between babies of different races and ethnicities. The death rate for African American non-Hispanic babies is 2.3 times higher than for White non-Hispanic. Latino babies in North Carolina tend to have lower infant mortality rates.
While advances in medicine and technology, case management services, educational programs and local community programs have all contributed to reducing the state's infant mortality rate over the years, there is more work to be done. Currently, a major effort is underway to improve the health of all women of childbearing age because healthier women are more likely to have healthy babies.
During the past ten years the infant death rate in N.C. has
decreased from 8.5 deaths per 1,000 live births
in 2001 to 7.2 deaths in 2010.
Resources to Reduce the Risks of Infant Mortality
The North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation is dedicated
to reducing infant death and illness and to improving the
health of women and young children in North Carolina.
To that end, we have developed pre-pregnancy, pregnancy,
and post-pregnancy public
education materials that teach women and families how
to increase their chances of being healthy and having a healthy pregnancy, and how to reduce the risks of infant death and illness.
The Your Health section of this Web site is full of tips and resources on pre-conception, women's health, pregnancy
and parenting topics.
To read more about what
we do and how you can help by volunteering or donating,
please visit the About Us
section of this Web site.
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Last updated: October 2012