ADPH releases Alabama’s infant mortality rate for 2021 which rises to 7.6
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Public Health released new data this week revealing the state infant mortality rate for 2021 and it is a slight increase from the year prior. The rate is at 7.6 deaths per 1000 live births which is an 8.6% increase over the 7.0 rate for 2020.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says decreasing that rate remains a significant challenge.
ADPH State Perinatal Division Director Carolyn Miller says although the rate has risen, she’s glad to see it hadn’t risen even more. She adds that ADPH continues to be concerned about the racial disparities in the report.
“Black babies are twice as likely to die as white babies,” she explained. “The infant mortality rate is twice as high.” The rate increased to 12.2 from the 2020 rate of 10.9.
Miller says the state as a whole is seeing a high infant mortality rate because of social determinants.
“We have people who have a lack of access to care, especially before prenatal care,” said Miller. “Women are coming into pregnancy with chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, overweight.”
One solution to bringing down the infant mortality rate, according to Miller, is providing greater access to healthcare. She says 38 counties do not have hospitals providing reproductive health services.
“A good example is Macon County has no providers, no delivering hospitals and 12% of the population has no method of transportation,” said Miller. “So how do they get care?”
Of course, people are still searching for answers to that question.
“Alabama must continue our commitment and efforts to prevent infant deaths by promoting evidence-based initiatives such as home visiting nurses to first-time mothers and high-risk pregnancies, safe sleep education, and the ‘Count the Kicks’ campaign,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
In a press release, ADPH listed other trends in the report:
1. The percentages of low weight births decreased from 10.8 to 10.5, while the percentages of births at less than 37 weeks of gestation and births with a birth interval less than 2 years increased in 2021.
2. The percentage of births with no prenatal care decreased from 2.6 percent to 2.2 percent. For births with no prenatal care, 52.5 percent were to white mothers, 52.4 percent were to mothers aged 20-29, and 74.7 percent were paid by Medicaid.
3. Overall births to teenagers continue to decline; however, the percentage of births to Black teen mothers slightly increased in 2021, from 8.3 to 8.5.
4. The percentage of births with maternal smoking was 6.1 in 2021, the lowest percentage recorded.
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