Tennessee’s infant mortality rate decreases, still exceeds U.S. average

A new Tennessee Department of Health report states that Tennessee’s infant mortality rate dropped in 2018, but still exceeds the national rate by 17 percent.

Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before his or her first birthday, and is a critical indicator of the overall health of the state, as according to TDH.

Tennessee’s infant mortality rate fell to 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is the lowest it has been in the last three years. In 2017 and 2016, the rate was 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Despite the fact that numbers of infant deaths are declining, the United States’ infant mortality rate is 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. Tennessee is still an entire figure above the national rate, and the rate of death of black infants continue to be nearly twice that of white infants.

These statistics display the need to concentrate on the quality of care that young Tennesseans receive.

“Many factors contribute to a healthy birth and first year of life, including good health before a woman ever gets pregnant, early prenatal care, avoidance of tobacco and high-quality care during labor and delivery,” said TDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Morgan McDonald.

Each year, around 20 percent of infant deaths in Tennessee are a result of unsafe sleeping practices. 

Safe sleep practices can help to ensure the longevity of infants’ lives in Tennessee and everywhere else. Some practices include:

  • Infants always be placed on their backs to sleep
  • Infants sleep alone in a crib or bassinet, which can be in the same room as an adult caregiver
  • Infants should not have bumper pads, blankets, stuffed animals, toys or pets in their cribs
  • Infants should sleep on a firm crib mattress with the mattress covered only by a fitted sheet

To contact News Editor Savannah Meade, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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