2015 Infant Mortality in North Carolina
- 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 time frame (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.
- 120,826 babies were born alive in 2015, a slight increase from 2014 which followed decreasing numbers of births for the previous six years. North Carolina’s infant mortality rate has remained relatively consistent over the past 5 years (the lowest in the state’s history.) 7.3 babies died in 2015 for every 1,000 born alive. This is a dramatic 42 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.
- The two major causes of infant deaths, prematurity and low birthweight and birth defects, remain significant. Prematurity (born too early) and low birthweight (born too small) have not changed much in the last few years. 10.2 percent of babies were born less than 37 weeks gestation.
- The percentage of low birthweight babies (less than 5.5 pounds) remains similar to the past several years (9.2 percent of all births.)
- Birth defects account for 16.6 of all 2015 infant deaths.
- 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 2.2 times higher than for White non-Hispanic babies. The rate decreased in 2015 to 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. Worth noting is the rate for Latinos – which had increased in 2014 from 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live birth sin 2013 to 6.2 per 1,000 in 2015.
- 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 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 7.3 deaths in 2015.
The North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation is dedicated to eliminating preventable infant death and illness 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 Resources section of this site is full of tips and resources on pre-conception, women’s health, pregnancy and parenting topics.