Regional Infant Mortality rates rise slightly in 2012 due to uptick in white rates

The infant mortality rate in Northeast Florida ticked up slightly in 2012 to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2011, the region’s infant mortality rate was 6.5 deaths per 1,000, its lowest rate in 20 years.

A 30 percent increase in white infant mortality during the last year contributed to the higher rate. In 2011, white infant mortality in the region was 3.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 4.6 deaths per 1,000 in 2012. The 2012 rates are more comparable to previous mortality trends in the region and mirror the state rate for this group.

Infant death rates for blacks and others improved between 2011 and 2012. The nonwhite infant mortality rate was 11.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012, compared to 12.3 deaths per 1,000 in 2011. Three counties — Baker, Nassau and St. Johns— reported no black infant deaths in 2012.

Despite improvements in 2012, Baker County continued to have the highest infant death rate in the region (8.8 deaths per 1,000 live births), while St. Johns County posted the area’s lowest rate (1.6 deaths per 1,000 live births). Rates in the counties with small populations, like Baker and Nassau, tend to fluctuate more because the number of infant deaths is very low.

Florida’s infant mortality rate decreased again from 6.4 in 2011 to 6.0 in 2012 per 1,000 live births, marking a new low. Black infant mortality rates decreased from 12.0 in 2011 to 10.7 in 2012, an historic low. The white infant mortality rate decreased from 4.9 in 2010 to 4.6 in 2011 and remained at 4.6 in 2012.