Infant Mortality Hits a Record Low

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Infant mortality is at a record low in Shelby County, according to the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD).

The infant mortality rate is the frequency of babies dying before their first birthday. The rate in Shelby County has long been the highest in the country. It’s been a vexing sore spot, drawing comparisons to Third World countries. The problem here was even the subject of a 2008 documentary called “Babyland.”

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New data shows the infant mortality rate here is now the lowest in the last 100 years. The health department said Friday the rate had dropped to 9.2 deaths per live 1,000 live births. In Shelby County, infant deaths are primarily associated with babies born prematurely, according to the health department.

In 2003, the infant mortality rate in Shelby County was 14.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. The target infant mortality rate set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 6 deaths per 1,000 live births.

“The improvement we are seeing is the result of the strategic community wide, multi-layered approach, a commitment of resources and implementing evidence-based approaches,” said Yvonne Madlock, director of the SCHD. “While the African-American infant mortality rate of 12.4 per 1,000 live births is the lowest on record in Shelby County, we continue to see a disproportionate amount of infant deaths in that community in comparison to other groups which means we still have work to do.”

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