State health officials say Alabama’s infant mortality rate is on the rise.
The Alabama Department of Public health issued a news release yesterday saying last year’s rate of 9.1 infant deaths per thousand live births is the highest in the state since 2008. Acting State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says “Our infant mortality rate is troubling and disheartening and trending in the wrong direction.”
The release also says the mortality rate for African-American infants was more than twice that of white infants. Last year’s mortality rate for black infants was 15.1 per thousand, compared to 6.5 per thousand for white babies.
The top three leading causes of infant death in Alabama remain the same: premature births, congenital malformations, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.
Harris says some of the strategies the Alabama Department of Public Health plans to implement to cut down on infant mortality include reducing tobacco use among women of childbearing age, encouraging women to wait at least 18 months after having a child before becoming pregnant again, and continuing education efforts for safe sleep.
One positive note from the report: the percent of birth to teenagers in Alabama continues to trend downward to its lowest ever recorded rate of 7.7 percent of all births in 2016.