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Alabama sees decline in infant mortality

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has tied its lowest infant mortality rate, matching a mark set in 2018, but remained significantly above the national rate for babies dying before their first birthday.

Alabama’s infant mortality rate was 7.0 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020, compared to a provisional national rate of 5.5 per 1,000, the Alabama Department of Public Health said in a news release.

The 2020 numbers continued longstanding racial disparities.

The infant mortality rate in 2020 remained twice as high for Black infants, at 10.9, compared to 5.2 for white infants.

“The death of any infant is tragic. Alabama must continue our commitment to prevent infant deaths by promoting evidence-based initiatives to address this persistent need,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said in a statement.

State numbers also showed a disparity by access to private insurance, a reflection of economic status. Mothers who had private insurance accounted for 45% of all births and 26% of infant deaths. While mothers on Medicaid accounted for 50% of all births but 65% of infant deaths.

The state numbers reflected 404 Alabama infants who died before reaching their first birthday. A drop from 7.7 in 2019 was not statistically significant, the department said.

State health officials said the top three causes of infant death were: disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight; congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities; and sudden infant death syndrome.

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