Alabama infant mortality rate lowest in history

Published 12:07 pm Thursday, August 19, 2010

Alabama recorded its lowest infant mortality rate in history this week, while Chilton County’s rate is the highest in the region.

The latest figures are from 2009, when there were 513 infant deaths statewide, translating to an infant mortality rate of 8.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. The state rate was 9.5 percent the previous year.
Chilton County’s rate for 2009 was 13.5 percent, which accounts for eight infant deaths that year, up from a rate of 13.1 percent in 2008.

Although county figures tend to fluctuate from year to year, the most important news is that there is a positive trend in infant mortality, said Dr. Jim McVay, director of health promotion and chronic disease with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“The fact that we’re seeing an overall improvement is very good,” McVay said. “It’s exactly what we want to see.”

A number of factors are possible contributors to the trend. For one, expectant mothers are smoking at a lower rate, McVay noted.

Also, more women were eligible for Medicaid in 2009 than in 2008, which reflects that women without private or government insurance tend to not receive as much prenatal care.

There was also a reduction in the number of teens that gave birth last year. McVay said ADPH advocates that women plan their pregnancies and that they leave two years or more in between pregnancies.

“It’s a combination of women taking care of themselves during pregnancy and appropriate medical care,” he said.

Other county infant mortality rates for 2009 were: Autauga (2.9), Perry (6.4), Shelby (4.4), Bibb (13.0), Elmore (5.6), Coosa (0) and Dallas (7.1).