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Alabama infant mortality rate hits 50-year low

For 2020, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports a tie with 2018 for the lowest death...
For 2020, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports a tie with 2018 for the lowest death rate in more than five decades.(Unsplash)
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 4:57 PM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There’s good news in the fight against infant mortality in Alabama. For 2020, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports a tie with 2018 for the lowest death rate in more than five decades.

ADPH reported seven deaths per 1,000 births. The three-year rate is 7.2, which is the lowest on state record. However, the state’s infant mortality rate has continued to be higher than the national average, which was 5.5 in 2020.

“We are encouraged by the decline in infant deaths seen this past year and are motivated to make sure that infant deaths in the state continue this descent,” Center for Health Statistics Director Nicole Rushing said.

According to ADPH’s report, 404 infants died before reaching their first birthday in 2020 compared 449 in 2019, 405 in 2018, and 435 in 2017.

While the 2020 rate was a 10% decrease from 2019, it was not a statistically significant decline.

Nine of Alabama’s 67 counties reported no infant deaths in 2020, up from seven reporting that a year earlier.

The three leading causes of infant death in 2020 remained the same as in 2019. Those included disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities and sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. However, deaths from SIDS increased from 24 in 2019 to 43 in 2020.

The number of live births decreased from 58,615 in 2019 to 57,643 in 2020. ADPH says this is the lowest number of births in the state since the 1920s.

The number of preterm births increased from 7,309 in 2019 to 7,440 in 2020. Meanwhile, the number of fetal deaths decreased from 525 in 2019 to 491 in 2020.

ADPH also noted that smoking during pregnancy continues to decline among teen and adult mothers.

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