Infant Deaths Down
Infant mortality rates dropped dramatically in Moore County last year.
The latest statistics show that the overall rate in Moore County was 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 10.8 in 2007. The mortality rate for minorities declined even more sharply, dropping to 10.2 in 2008 from 27 in 2007.
The rate for white babies was 6.2 in 2008, down slightly from 6.3 in 2007.
The rate in Moore County is lower than the North Carolina rate.
County Health Director Robert Wittmann said he was pleased by the lower mortality rates and credited the quality of local health care for the good news.
"Moore County is fortunate to have excellent health care providers who give quality care to our citizens," Wittmann said.
Wittman said the Moore County Health Department works collaboratively with health-care providers and local community-based organizations.
"Our Maternity Care Coordination Program ensures that women access appropriate health care, receive support, and are educated about risk factors that may affect their health and the health of their babies," he said. "These risk factors include pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and lifestyle behaviors including smoking and drug use."
Moore County recorded 1,010 births last year, down sightly from 1,016 in 2007. Of those births, 811 were whites, while 199 were minorities. There were seven infant deaths last year -- five whites and two minorities -- compared to 11 deaths in 2007 -- five whites and six minorities.
Infant mortality rates dropped in North Carolina in 2008, and the minority infant mortality rate was the lowest in the state's history.
A total of 130,758 North Carolina babies were born last year.
The state's total infant mortality rate was 8.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, 3.5 percent lower than the 2007 rate of 8.5. The statistics were released last week by the health division of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
National figures are not yet available for 2008 data, but North Carolina is currently ranked 44th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In 2008, North Carolina's minority infant mortality rate was 13.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, nearly a 3 percent drop from the 2007 rate of 13.9. There were 37,530 live births to minority mothers, and 508 babies of minority race died before the age of 1 during 2008.
The state's white infant death rate also fell in 2008, from 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 6.0 last year, a 4.8 percent drop. There were 93,228 births to white mothers in 2008, and 558 deaths of white babies under age 1.
"It is good news that our infant mortality rates dropped in 2008, especially among minorities," said State Health Director Jeffrey Engel. "Although racial disparities persist, the decrease in the minority death rate is a promising sign that we are moving in the right direction. We want all North Carolina babies to be born healthy and to stay healthy.
"Community-based organizations and local health departments have been working diligently to reach families of color, to help them access health services, to provide them with care coordination and support, and to give them positive, helpful health information."
The 1,066 deaths of babies under 1 year old in 2008 were due to a variety of causes. Nearly 20 percent (210) of the deaths were due to prematurity and low birth weight, and 19 percent (203) were attributed to birth defects.
Unintentional injury deaths dropped, accounting for slightly more than 3 percent (35) of the infant deaths in 2008.
Minority women continue to experience markedly higher rates of low birthweight births (13.5 percent in 2008) than do white women (7.3 percent in 2008).
These higher rates are responsible for much of the gap between white and minority birth outcomes, health officials say.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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