PICKENS COUNTY — New data released on Tuesday by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shows that South Carolina’s infant mortality rate remained at 7.0 deaths per 1000 births.
This data also showed four fewer deaths in 2016 than in the previous year, the agency said.
“While recent data indicates a slight increase in infant mortality among some populations, an analysis of the agency’s data shows a 26 percent decrease in the overall rate in the past 20 years, from 9.46 percent in 1997 to 7.0 percent in 2016,” the agency stated. “This includes a decline in the infant mortality rate among minorities. There has also been a decline in the teen birth rate, one of the risk factors for poor birth outcomes.”
“South Carolina has made significant progress in reducing infant mortality over the past 20 years. To continue to make progress, we must continue our collaborative work across sectors to improve the systems that support women and their families before, during and after pregnancy,” said Dr. Lilian Peake, DHEC’s director of public health.
The leading causes of infant deaths — preterm birth/low birth weight, birth defects, accidents and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – are unchanged from the previous year, DHEC said.
The number of deaths due to preterm birth/low birth weight decreased by 27.8 percent while deaths due to birth defects increased by 18.1 percent. Sleep-related deaths decreased by 9 percent.
“One important way to prevent sleep-related deaths is by following the A,B,Cs of Safe Sleep — place your baby Alone on their Back in their Crib to sleep,” Peake said.
She also recommends never smoking around your baby, as second-hand smoke can contribute to sudden, unexplained infant death.
Kimberly Seals, Bureau of Maternal and Child Health Director, also recommends women who are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant take a multivitamin that includes at least 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.
DHEC launched the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Infant Mortality Reduction Plan in 2013 that outlined several recommendations and strategies for reducing infant mortality. An assessment of the progress made on the implementation of the plan was released in 2016 and is available on the DHEC website.
The agency continues to work with partners, like the S.C. Hospital Association, S.C Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the March of Dimes South Carolina Chapter and others to establish strategies that allow us to help improve the health of moms and babies in South Carolina.
“All who are engaged in this work are determined to give every child in the Palmetto state the best chance for a happy and productive life,” the agency stated.