SC

South Carolina’s Infant Mortality Rate Remains High

Palmetto State still struggling on critical public health metric …

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South Carolina’s infant mortality rate declined modestly during the latest year for which data is available. However, it remains well-above the national average according to new numbers released this week by the Palmetto State’s public health agency.

According to an annual report (.pdf) published on Tuesday (June 12, 2024) by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), South Carolina’s infant mortality rate dipped from 7.3 per 1,000 live births in 2021 to 6.8 per 1,000 live births in 2022.

In 2020, the rate was 6.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

Infant mortality is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “the death of an infant before his or her first birthday,” and the rate is expressed as the “number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.”

Although the nationwide infant mortality rate rose by 3.1 percent in 2022, it fell in South Carolina – with 392 infants reportedly dying during their first year of life in South Carolina that year (less than the 416 infant deaths recorded in 2021).

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While racial disparities remained in effect, infant mortality rates between white and black women did decrease from 2021 to 2022. Both rates for white women (5.2) and hispanic women (4.1) were still less than half the rate recorded for black women (11.2) – although that latter number declined from 12.7 in 2021.

“We are pleased with the improvements we see in this year’s report; however, it’s critical that we continue our focus on improving the health outcomes for all of South Carolina’s newborns,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, SCDHEC deputy director. “The data is clear: we must do more to help ensure women of color have access to resources that will help improve birth outcomes for our state’s minority population and close the gaps we continue to see in mortality rates. All babies born in South Carolina deserve an equal opportunity to live a long, happy and healthy life.”

The report noted three combined leading causes of infant death in 2022 in South Carolina – congenital malformations or birth defects, disorders related to short gestation and low birthweight (being born prematurely or at a low weight) and accidents. Two of every five infant deaths in the Palmetto State in 2022 were caused by one of these three factors.

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According to the report, the 36 accidental deaths represented a 46 percent increase in this category. Of those deaths, 29 were caused by accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed – increasing the rank from fifth in 2021 to third in 2022.

“The increase in deaths due to accidents demonstrates a real need for continuous education and emphasis on safe sleeping practices for each generation of families in South Carolina,” said Danielle Wingo, SCDHEC’s director of the bureau of maternal and child health. “DHEC will continue our work with partners to explain how critically important safe sleeping practices, especially putting a baby alone on their back in their own crib or bassinet to sleep, are for children in that first year of life.”

“Accidental deaths are preventable,” Wingo added, “and we want to ensure that we do everything we can to keep parents from experiencing the unimaginable tragic loss of a child.”

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) remained the fourth leading cause of infant death in South Carolina, recording a 37.6 percent increase from 2021 to 2022. 

According to the release, SCDHEC and administrators of the state’s Title V program continue to partner with programs and entities committed to improving the health of women and infants before, during and after pregnancy – including access to quality maternal, infant and child health services. These include preventive and primary care, access to prenatal, delivery and postnatal care to women, and regular screenings and follow-up.

Here’s a list of the entities assisting the effort …

And here is the full SCDHEC report …

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THE REPORT …

(SCDHEC)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Erin Parrott (Provided)

Erin Parrott is a Greenville, S.C. native who graduated from J. L. Mann High School in 2021. She is currently a rising senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in broadcast journalism. Got feedback or a tip for Erin? Email her here.

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1 comment

SubZeroIQ June 15, 2024 at 5:40 pm

There are three MAJOR interventions within EVERY mother’s reach that are NOT spoken about but had been practiced until some stupidity infected “advanced” societies: (1) no sex during pregnancy (that is the REAL cause of premature births and low birth weight); (2) breast-feeding from Day 1 to dentition UNLESS one of the true contra-indications to breast-feeding exists (a cow did not give birth to your baby; why do you let a cow feed your baby instead of you?); and (3) no smoking, drinking or drugs, during pregnancy or around children EVER. Period.
None of that requires money or hoopla, only return to what has been known since human beings developed societies but has been forgotten in the last two centuries.

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