September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month and the Center for Maternal and Infant Health is encouraging everyone to get involved to help reduce the number of infants that die each year.
Infant mortality is defined as death occurring during the first year of life. In the U.S. for every 1,000 babies born, 6 die during their first year. The leading causes of infant mortality are birth defects, preterm birth, low birth weight, and SIDS. Fortunately, most newborns grow and thrive. The U.S. has experienced an all-time low infant mortality rate, but the U.S. still ranks 27th among industrialized nations. Despite a reduction in infant mortality rates since 1988, North Carolina still exceeds the national average and is ranked 42nd in the country for infant mortality.
Significant disparities persist in the death rate of infants by race and ethnicity. In the U.S. the infant mortality rate among African American infants is more than twice that of non-Hispanic whites and the rate is 60% higher among American Indian/Alaska Native infants compared to non-Hispanic whites. In North Carolina the infant mortality rate for African American babies is 2.5 times higher than for non-Hispanic white babies. Of further concern in North Carolina is the increased infant mortality rate among Latino infants.
Although infant mortality is influenced by a number of issues–a woman’s health remains the most important factor. This is why preconception health is so critical! Below are two resources through the Center that are designed to promote preconception health:
Before, Between and Beyond Pregnancy is designed to be a “one stop” resource for clinicians and others who want to learn more about preconception health, its history, the evidence supporting it and strategies for incorporating relevant content into daily clinical practice.
Show Your Love is a national campaign designed to promote well-being and support young women and men strive to achieve their goals and make healthy lifestyle choices today.
The death of a baby is a devastating reality for many families. The following organizations may provide support to those individuals and families who have experienced the loss of a baby:
UNC Perinatal Loss Support Group
Share- Pregnancy Infant Loss & Support
The Compassionate Friends
The Center is committed to reducing the infant mortality rate in North Carolina by working to reduce health disparities, helping women with high-risk pregnancies and families with medically fragile infants to navigate a complex health care system, and by providing leadership to several important public health campaigns across the state.
Office of Minority Health
North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation