Minority rate decreases by over 50%


BURLINGTON – Thanks to a combined countywide effort, more babies in Alamance County are living to see their first birthday.  Infant Mortality Rates for 2010, released recently from the North Carolina Center for State Health Statistics (NC SCHS), reflect a continued downward trend for infant deaths in Alamance County.

Overall, the Infant Mortality Rate in Alamance County for 2010 is 6.5 per 1000 live births.  The current rate for the state is 7.0 deaths per 1000 live births.  This is also the first year that the NC SCHS has reported specific rates for the African American and Hispanic populations, rather than using the minority classification.  The rate among African Americans is 8.2 deaths per 1000 live births.  In past years, African Americans have been 2-3 times more likely to experience an infant death, but this year marks a significant decline in the disparity.

“We are absolutely delighted with the continuing decline in the death rate for our minority children,” said health department Medical Director Kathleen Shapley-Quinn, MD.  “Improving outcomes for this group of children is particularly challenging since the science behind this historical trend of increased minority deaths is not clear.  We should take this opportunity to celebrate, as well as recommit ourselves to further advancing all of the good work underway.”
Since 2005, when a five-year action plan was created by the health department and Alamance County Board of Health, several interventions have been implemented to improve the health of women and infants.

These programs include: • Formation of an infant mortality reduction coalition. • 5A’s smoking cessation program at the health department. • Offering mental health services at the health department to pregnant women. • “Back to Sleep” SIDS prevention public awareness campaigns. • Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention public awareness campaigns. • Horizons Substance Abuse counseling at the health department for moms and pregnant women • Neonatal and Special Care Nursery services at Alamance Regional Medical Center. • Smoking cessation public awareness campaigns. •  Teen Outreach Program (TOP). •  Distribution of multivitamins containing Folic Acid to Maternity clinic and Women’s Health clinic clients.  • Safe Surrender Law education and public awareness campaigns. • Preconception and interconception health education and counseling. • Duke Perinatal Services at Alamance Regional Medical Center. • Pregnancy Medical Home and Pregnancy Care Management • Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program • 17P Promotion and Utilization
Infant mortality is multi-factorial.  It is likely all the programs, in addition to the good work done by our many community partners, have in some way contributed to the decline.

Additionally, research has found that a woman’s health prior to pregnancy can impact pregnancy outcomes.  As women become healthier, the likelihood of a healthier pregnancy increases and in turn, the likelihood of healthier babies increases.