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Infant Mortality in North Carolina Overview

2013 Infant Mortality Statistics

DHHS Press Release

Causes and Risk Factors
Racial Disparities
NC Center for Health Statistics 2012 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.

119,767 babies were born alive in 2012, North Carolina's infant mortality rate was the third lowest in the state's history. 7.4 babies died in 2012 for every 1,000 born alive. This is up 2.8% from 2011 - not a statistically significant increase. It is still a dramatic 41 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 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011.)

The two major causes of infant deaths are: prematurity and low birthweight, and birth defects remain significant. Prematurity (born too early) and low birthweight (born too small) declined slightly in 2011, 11.5 percent of babies were born less than 37 weeks gestation compared with 12 percent in 2011.

The percentage of low birthweight babies (less than 5.5 pounds) remains similar to 2011 (8.8 percent of all births.)

Of increasing concern is the increasing difference in death rates between babies of different races and ethnicities. The death rate for African American non-Hispanic babies is 2.5 times higher than for White non-Hispanic babies. Latino babies in North Carolina continue to have the lowest infant mortality rates (4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.)

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 8.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2003 to 7.4 deaths in 2012.

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 2014


Educational materials that teach women and families how to reduce the risk of infant death and illness

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