National Infant Mortality Awareness Month
The regional and state infant mortality rates have dropped from 2009 to 2010 according to preliminary data released by the state.
After recent news that the U.S. still lags behind other industrialized nations in infant and newborn death rates, the local preliminary data shows that rates are moving in the right direction — the Northeast Florida rate dropped from 7.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009 to 7.3 deaths in 2010. The state rate dropped from 6.8 deaths per 1,000 births to 6.5 deaths in 2010.
Black and other nonwhite infant mortality rates still remain much higher than that of whites. In 2010, black babies died at a rate of 10.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 5.6 white deaths.
Infant mortality is a sentinel indicator of the health of a community that is impacted by health, income, education, crime, housing, family support and other factors.
The Healthy Start program was created by former Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1991 to address the alarmingly high infant mortality rate in the state. Since the program was implemented, the state rate has dropped from 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live births to 6.5 deaths in 2010.