09 N1509P39004CThe 2018 North Carolina Infant Mortality Report shows the infant mortality rate in Cumberland County has dropped significantly — 33% compared to 2017. The lower infant mortality rate mirrors a record low rate statewide. In Cumberland County, there were 34 infant deaths recorded to residents of the county in 2018, compared to 52 deaths in 2017. The infant mortality rate in Cumberland County in 2018 was 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 compared to 9.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017.

Statewide, infant deaths in 2018 reached the lowest rate in the 31 years that deaths have been tracked — declining for the third straight year. According to the North Carolina Infant Mortality Report, 806 infant deaths were recorded to residents of North Carolina in 2018 compared to 852 in 2017.

“While we are pleased by recent reports of a reduction in the number of infant deaths in Cumberland County, one death is still too many,” said Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green. “Department initiatives such as the Baby Store are aimed at promoting prenatal health which leads to healthy moms and healthy babies.”

Wisconsin is at the top of the Centers for Disease Control and prevention list when it comes to infant mortality for nonHispanic black women, with the following deaths per 1,000 live births:
Wisconsin — 14.28
Ohio — 13.46
Alabama — 13.40
Indiana — 13.26
North Carolina — 12.24

Dr. Green notes that North Carolina has historically been among the states with high rates of infant mortality. The report indicates that notable disparities persist in infant mortality, particularly among African Americans. The African-American infant mortality rate in the tar heel state reached an all-time low, decreasing by 9% since 2016. In Cumberland County, the rate is four times the white infant mortality rate at 9.9 deaths per 1,000 births in 2018. Leading causes of infant mortality are preterm birth and low birth weight, birth defects, Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and complications of pregnancy, labor and delivery.

The rate is impacted by a wide range of social, behavioral and health risk factors, including poverty, racism, education, tobacco use, obesity and lack of access to medical care before and during pregnancy. In the United States, research has identified associations between individual socioeconomic factors and select community-level factors. In the 2018 report, the authors looked beyond traditional risk factors for infant mortality and examined the social context of race in this country to understand African-American women’s long-standing birth outcome disadvantage.

In the process, recent insights are highlighted concerning neighborhood-level factors such as crime, poverty, segregation and institutional racism. A 2018 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which uses data from 2013-2015, states: For infants of nonHispanic black women, the mortality rate ranged from 8.27 in Massachusetts to 14.28 in Wisconsin.

“The data should be shocking to everyone,” Wisconsin state Rep. Shelia Stubbs said in an email. “But for black families, especially black women, this is reality.”

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