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Infant mortality rate rising in N.C.
After historic lows, fatalities inch up in 2011
 
Published Thursday, November 1, 2012 8:03 am
by Bonitta Best, The Triangle Tribune

RALEIGH – After reaching its lowest recorded rate in N.C. history, the state’s infant mortality rate inched up slightly last year.


Health advocates use the statistic as a measure of the population’s overall health. Infant mortality can happen from a wide range of factors, including maternal health, health-care access and socioeconomic conditions.


“Historically, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate has been among the highest in the nation,” said Laila A. Bell, director of research and data at Action for Children N.C. “Lowering our state’s infant mortality rate should be seen as a critical part of our efforts to improve public health in North Carolina.”


The racial gap in mortality rates still remain.


Black babies are more than twice as likely to die before reaching their first birthday as white babies.


Also, twice as many infants die before reaching their first birthday in eastern North Carolina as opposed to other parts of the state.
Last year, the General Assembly cut funding to maternity clinics in 29 eastern N.C. counties that provide care to women with high-risk pregnancies. Although the funding was restored earlier this year, some say the damage had been done.


“An increasingly sophisticated body of research shows that when it comes to health outcomes, place matters,” Bell said. “The conditions in which our expectant mothers and children live – the economic security of their families, the quality of their neighborhoods and schools, and their access to nutritious foods – all impact the health of our children.


“It is not enough to simply address the symptoms of poor health, we must also identify the complex root causes of health disparities and find ways to correct them.”

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