One hundred forty-three babies in Northeast Florida died before their first birthday — meaning eight classes of kindergartners will not start school in five years. The regional infant mortality rate remains at 8.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, higher than recent years but still lower than just a decade ago.
The black and other nonwhite infant mortality rate rose, while the white infant mortality rate fell. The disparity is significant — black babies are more than two and a half times as likely to die before their first birthday than white babies.
Sleep-related deaths remain high. Twenty-four babies died from Sudden Unexplained Infants Deaths (SUIDs) in 2014. These largely preventable deaths account for 16.7 percent of all infant deaths.
Both Baker and Nassau counties saw significant fluctuations — Nassau increased from 1.3 to 5.4 while Baker decreased from 14.3 to 5.5. Rates in small counties like Baker and Nassau can fluctuate significantly from year to year, as a few additional or less deaths impact the rate much more than larger counties.
After consistent declines that were historically much lower than the region, state and surrounding counties, St. Johns County continues to see a higher infant mortality rate of 6.5 deaths per 1000 live births. Clay County increased from 4.8 deaths to 6.2 deaths per 1000 live births.
Duval County — which also accounted for the most births — had the highest infant mortality rate in the region, 8.8 deaths per 1000 live births. While the rate in Duval remained the same from 2013, the landscape of deaths has changed: the infant death rate in Health Zone 1, the urban core of Jacksonville, has declined while three zip codes, 32210, 32211 and 32218, have seen significant increases.