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2015 Data Suggests 2.8 Percent Increase in Infant Mortality Rate in North Carolina

Release from App Health Care: 

The State Center for Health Statistics recently released new data on infant mortality in North Carolina. From 2014 to 2015, the infant death rate rose from 7.1 per 1,000 live births to 7.3 per 1,000 live births, representing a 2.8% increase in the state’s infant mortality rate.

This most recent report indicates substantial discrepancies in North Carolina’s infant mortality rates across racial/ethnic groups.

In 2015, Non-Hispanic African American infants had the highest mortality rate (12.5 per 1,000, a 2.3% reduction from 2014), while non-Hispanic American Indians had the lowest rate (4.9 per 1,000, a 47.9% reduction from 2014). White non-Hispanic infants had a rate of 5.7 per 1,000 (an 11.8% increase from 2014) and Hispanic infants had a rate of 5.4 per 1,000 (a 12.9% decrease from 2014). The greatest increase in infant mortality rate was found among non-Hispanic infants of racial backgrounds other than White, African American, or American Indian (6.2 per 1,000; a 55.0% increase from 2014). The infant mortality disparity ratio of the African American infant mortality rate to the White infant mortality rate was 2.35 in 2015, which represents a decrease from the 2014 ratio of 2.5. 

In April 2016, AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) was awarded a three-year, 1.5 million dollar grant through the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Initiative to improve birth outcomes, reduce infant mortality, and improve health outcomes among children aged 0-5 in a five-county region that includes Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga, Wilkes and Avery Counties. According to this data, the combined infant mortality rate in this five-county area was 6.8% higher than the state average (7.8 per 1,000 births).

The MCH Initiative, funded by the NC Division of Public Health Women’s and Children’s Health Section, is partnering with an array of local stakeholders, including families, healthcare providers, and community agencies to implement evidence-based programs to improve maternal and child health by expanding Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), promoting tobacco cessation efforts and access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). By partnering with local coalitions and utilizing the collective resources and social capital within our multi-county region, we aim to reverse these statewide trends in North Carolina to enhance maternal, infant, and child health outcomes.

“Our communities working together for healthy mothers and healthy babies will have a lasting impact on the health needs in our region.  We are excited about this opportunity to work with strong partners in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Wilkes and Watauga counties,” said Beth Lovette, MPH, RN, Public Health Director for AppHealthCare.