South Carolinas infant mortality rate in 2011 remained stable at 7.4 deaths per 1,000 babies born.
The 2011 statistics were released last week by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The 2011 rate is 12 percent better than five years ago, but it was the same as 2010.
We still have a lot of work to do, said DHEC director Catherine Templeton.
Of the 57,338 children born in 2011 in the state, 423 died before their first birthday. The rate is identical to that of 2010, when there were 58,325 births and 430 infant deaths. The rate for white babies improved from 5.5 in 2010 to 5.0 in 2011. Black and other infants died at 2.4 times the rate as white infants in 2011. The previous year, the rate was 2.0 times that of whites.
The agency plans to promote the use of folic acid among women of childbearing age and provide information on the important role nutrition plays in the health of the mother and her baby. Also, the agency hopes to encourage more pregnant women to quit smoking.
The agency works with other state and local groups in the South Carolina Birth Outcomes Initiative, a collaboration formed in 2011. One of the initiatives major accomplishments was convincing all 43 of the states birthing hospitals to commit to ending non-medical inductions prior to 39 weeks of gestation. That change portends improvements in the infant mortality rates in the 2012 statistics.
-- Joey Holleman