Overall infant death rates improve in 2011 but disparities grow

The overall infant mortality rate in Northeast Florida continued to improve in 2011 and, for the first time, is comparable to the statewide rate. The area’s infant death rate was 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 compared to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 in 2010. The state’s infant mortality rate was 6.4 deaths per 1,000 in 2011. However, most of the improvement is attributable to decreases in white infant mortality. The infant death rate for whites in the region was nearly 40% lower in 2011 compared to 2010, while rates for nonwhite percent increased 18 percent. Rates also increased for nonwhites statewide.

Source: Florida Vital Statistics, May 2012. Prepared by NEF Healthy Start Coalition, Inc.

“We are disappointed that progress in 2011 does not reflect healthier birth outcomes for all of our babies,” said Carol Brady, Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Executive Director. “Minority families have clearly been affected by the loss in services and access to care resulting from the economic down-turn and cuts to safety net programs.”

The increase in nonwhite infant mortality in the five-county area comes after two years of improvements in infant health. Reducing disparities in infant mortality is a priority of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. The organization has implemented specific initiatives to address this issue, including the Magnolia Project and the Make a Noise! Make a Difference! awareness and education campaign. Local Infant Mortality Task Forces are currently supported by the Coalition in Baker and St. Johns Counties.

Infant mortality rates in 2011 ranged from 14.7 deaths per 1,000 in Baker County to 3.3 deaths per 1,000 in St. Johns County. Baker and Duval County continue to have the highest rates in the five county area. Rates for all counties in the state are available here.

Source: Florida Vital Statistics, May 2012. Prepared by NEF Healthy Start Coalition, Inc.