Infant Mortality in Alabama
The infant mortality rate in Alabama stands at 7.0 deaths per 1,000 live births as of 2018. Unfortunately, there are racial disparities in birth outcomes. The infant mortality rate for black infants declined to 11.0 in 2018, and the infant mortality rate for white infants decreased to 5.1.
In total, there was a 37% decrease in Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID), which is a leading cause of infant deaths. The top causes of infant deaths in 2018 were congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities; disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight; sudden infant death syndrome; and bacterial sepsis of newborn. These causes accounted for 50% of Alabama’s infant deaths.
Perinatal mortality is defined as the number of stillborns and deaths within the first week of life. Specifically, it relates to fetal deaths past the 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Premature birth is the leading cause of perinatal mortality in the United States. It is a key reason that we fall below other developed countries in infant mortality rates. About 70% of neonatal deaths, 36% of infant deaths, and 25-50% of cases of long-term neurologic impairment in children is caused by preterm birth. Risk factors for preterm birth include:
- Prior preterm birth
- African American race
- Age <17 or >35
- Low socioeconomic status
- Low pre-pregnancy weight (BMI < 18.6)
- Smoking, alcohol, or illicit drug use
- Multiple gestation
- Uterine anomaly
In the final months and weeks of pregnancy, the fetus is going through extreme growth. Its brain, lungs and liver are still developing. This is why preterm birth can be dangerous. 1 in 10 infants suffer from per term birth in the US.
In 2018, 17% of infant deaths were because of preterm birth and low birth weight. Infants that survive preterm birth may experience breathing problems, feeding difficulties, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, vision problems and hearing problems.