September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month


CONTACT: Tracie West
(334) 206-5044

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month, a time to promote the effectiveness of efforts that have reduced infant deaths in Alabama to record low levels for the second consecutive year. Infant mortality is the death of a baby before his/her first birthday. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate for non-Hispanic black infants was much higher at 11.4 per 1,000 births.

Alabama's infant mortality rate of 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 is lower than the 7.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. These are the lowest infant mortality rates ever recorded in Alabama. Health disparities by race persist, however. The rate represents 405 infant deaths with 198 of those deaths to black infants, 196 of those deaths to white infants, and 11 to other race infants. When compared to the 2017 national rate, Alabama continues to have much work to conduct.

Nationally, the five leading causes of infant death in 2017 were birth defects, preterm birth and low birth weight, maternal pregnancy complications, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and injuries (e.g., suffocation). The leading causes of infant death that contribute to infant mortality in Alabama include low birthweight, preterm births before 37 weeks gestation, SIDS and bacterial sepsis of newborn. Associated factors include race, where one lives, environmental influences, and available resources known as social determinants of health or health inequities.

Improving birth outcomes and reducing maternal, fetal and infant deaths require a multifaceted approach that addresses both societal and health systems factors. The Alabama Department of Public Health is taking strides to decrease infant mortality throughout the state. In 2018, the State of Alabama Infant Mortality Reduction Plan was adopted and funding provided for pilot projects in three counties – Macon, Montgomery and Russell – which have a higher infant mortality rate than the overall state.

Agencies involved in the initiative include the Alabama departments of Public Health, Early Childhood Education, Human Resources, Mental Health, Alabama Medicaid Agency and Office of Minority Affairs. Through collaborations, active engagement, and evidence-based interventions, the goal is a 20 percent reduction in infant mortality in the pilot counties by the end of this initiative in 2023.


County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.

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