Rockingham County Health and Human Services
Felissa Ferrell
Director of Health and Human Services
Felissa Ferrell
Director of Social Services
Susan Young, BSN,RN
Interim Health Director

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Infant Mortality Rate Decreases
Posted on Monday October 18, 2010

The Infant Mortality Rate Decreases in North Carolina…

Remains a Concern for Rockingham County



Wentworth, NC – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has recently released the 2009 Infant Mortality Report.   The data in the report reveals that the infant mortality rate (IMR) in North Carolina continues to decline, but the rate for minority women is still a top concern.  The infant mortality rate in NC has continuously ranked as one of the lowest in the US since 1988, but that status began to improve in 2008.


In 2009, 126,785 babies were born in NC; the infant mortality rate was 7.9 deaths for every 1,000 babies born live, which is a decrease of 3.7 percent from 2008.  Although NC is seeing a decline in the overall infant mortality rate, the rate among minority women continues to increase.  In 2009, the IMR increased by 4.4 percent for minority women.  In NC minority women not only have an IMR that is 2.6 times higher than white women, but they also experience a higher rate of low and very low birthweight babies at 13.5 percent compared to white women at 7.7 percent. 


The infant mortality rate in Rockingham County was 10.5 deaths for every 1,000 babies born live in 2009 which has increased from 8.6 in 2008.  Unfortunately, the increased IMR in Rockingham County is not on trend with NC which shows a decrease in IMR.  Minority women in Rockingham County also do not show any improvement in IMR.  In 2008 the minority IMR was 14.0 per 1,000 live births out of a total of 215 live births; in 2009 that number increased to a rate of 17.4 out of 230 live births.  The rate for minority women was almost double that of white women.


North Carolina is fortunate to have programs available that not only address racial disparities regarding infant mortality, but also ensure that women who are pregnant have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.  These programs include: NC Baby Love Plus Program, UNC Pembroke’s Healthy Start Corps Programs, the Healthy Beginnings program, and the NC Healthy Start Foundation, and many others.  The Rockingham County Department of Public Health’s Baby Love Program offers three services: Child Service Coordination, Maternity Care Coordination, and Post-Partum Newborn Home Visit.  These three programs offer services for pregnant women during their prenatal care and for their child from birth until age three, depending on eligibility.  Contact the Department of Public Health at 336-342-8140 for more information.


The 2009 Infant Mortality Report shows that deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) decreased from 136 deaths in children under one year old in 2008 to 98 in 2009.  Smoking rates among pregnant women and the percentage of teenagers under 18 who gave birth both continue to decline.  The number of women receiving early prenatal care increased slightly from the previous year.  North Carolina is improving in many areas concerning infant mortality, but the effort must be continued in order to see an increased improvement in the coming years.  There must be increased awareness for the following in order to make a difference in the next few years: infant mortality health disparities, the importance of early prenatal care, and increased knowledge of existing programs for pregnant women to receive needed services.  The citizens of Rockingham County must invest in this issue and continue to make it a top priority. 


The three major causes of infant death include premature and low birth weight, birth defects, and SIDS.  Women of childbearing age (15-44) should be aware of the following recommendations to increase their chances of having a healthy baby:

Ø  Plan your birth by seeking preconception care before you conceive

Ø  Control chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes before you conceive

Ø  Take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid daily in order to prevent birth defects of the spine and brain

Ø  Stop smoking – For help to stop smoking call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

Ø  Get early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy

Ø  Ask your doctor about the hormone 17P if you have had a premature baby in a prior pregnancy

It is imperative that women establish a relationship with their doctor and seek the resources available to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.


Decreasing the infant mortality rate is a focus area of the Rockingham County Healthy Carolinians’ Maternal and Child Health Workgroup (MCH).  The members of this workgroup recognize that babies and children of mothers who smoke or are exposed to smoke are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), to have weaker lungs therefore increasing their risk of other health problems, and to experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks than children who are not exposed to smoke.  As a result of the efforts made to reduce exposure to second hand smoke; The Smoke-Free Dining Day Campaign held annually for six years has been extremely successful with increased participants each year.  The final year of the campaign (before North Carolina’s Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law became effective) there was a 45% increase of restaurant participation in the one day event compared to the prior year.  There was a 44% increase of restaurants that implemented a 100% smoke-free policy year round in the final year of the campaign.  The MCH Workgroup also provides an annually revised Healthy Mothers and Babies Resource Guide; designed to increase awareness of area resources and services for mothers and children in Rockingham County.  If you would like to become a member of the Rockingham County Healthy Carolinians’ Maternal and Child Health Workgroup, please contact Beverly Scurry, Healthy Carolinians Coordinator, at 336-342-8258.


For a complete copy of the 2009 Infant Mortality Report please visit

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