By Jamie Shuster
Every year we release new data on infant mortality in South Carolina to give our partners and health care providers a benchmark of how the state is doing in our efforts to reduce infant deaths. This year, I’m pleased to announce that the data shows South Carolina is making great strides in keeping babies healthy and safe.
The newly released 2013 data shows that the infant mortality rate in South Carolina has hit a record low. Between 2005 and 2013, our state’s infant mortality rate dropped by over 25%, from 9.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 6.9 in 2013.
One of the sharpest declines in infant deaths was among African-American babies, with rates dropping from 12.5 in 2012 to 10 in 2013. While disparities in infant mortality rates persist by race, South Carolina’s racial disparity in infant mortality rates between African-Americans and Whites has fallen below the national average for the first time ever. We’re also encouraged by a 41% decrease in accidental sleep-related deaths between 2012 and 2013, which suggests that our state’s safe sleep educational efforts are also making a difference.
While these new numbers indicate we’re making progress in moving the needle in the right direction, we still have more work to do. The good news is that we have strong partnerships with the SC March of Dimes, the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, and are active participants in the Birth Outcomes Initiative – all of which are working hard to reduce infant deaths. Ensuring that women are healthy before they become pregnant, controlling hypertension in pregnancy, encouraging women to quit smoking, and educating parents about the ABCs of safe sleep are just a few of the strategies we’ll continue to implement to help more babies get a healthy start in life.
Thank you to our Maternal and Child Health Team for the collaborative work they are doing with our partners to reduce infant deaths. To learn more about DHEC’s comprehensive infant mortality reduction strategies, please take a few minutes to check out our Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies plan.