Ensuring that babies sleep in safe environments, on their backs, and in cribs, is just one of the factors that helped Mississippi’s infant mortality rate drop to an all-time low in 2014 of 8.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) officials report a significant downward trend in the state’s infant mortality rate between 2005 and 2014. Mississippi’s 2014 infant mortality rate showed a 15 percent decrease from 2013 and a 28 percent decrease since 2005 when it was 11.4 per 1,000 live births. A disproportionate number of black infants still die in Mississippi annually, however. The 2014 black mortality rate was 11.2 per 1,000 births versus the white mortality rate of 5.9.
“Mississippi continues to have one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the United States,” said State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. “Thanks in part to special funding provided by the state legislature, Mississippi is doing more than ever to address the issue of infant mortality by working with partners to reduce preterm births, eliminate tobacco use by and around pregnant women, and prevent sleep-related deaths.”
Within the past few years there were notable declines in infants born electively before
39 weeks. Most Mississippi hospitals have signed a pledge to eliminate early elective deliveries unless medically necessary. Having fewer babies born too early is one of the most important ways to reduce infant deaths. The preterm birth rate (births at less than 37 weeks) is at an all-time low for Mississippi.
As a result, Mississippi recently received the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Award for successfully lowering the preterm birth rate by 11 percent since 2009. Preterm births are the leading cause of infant mortality in Mississippi.
In its most recent report on infant mortality in the U.S, the March of Dimes ranks Mississippi as one of the states where improvement in infant mortality is most needed.
“We know that much work must still be done, but Mississippi has the potential to continue our successful trend,” Currier said. “We continue to work to improve our birth outcomes through outreach, education and improved access to care.”
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