Sampson’s infant mortality rate lowest in six years
by Chris Berendt Staff Writer
Sampson County’s infant mortality rate was the lowest it has been in six years, and actually dipped below the state’s rate in 2012, according to statistics recently released by the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services.
The NCDHHS reported that North Carolina’s infant mortality rate for 2012 was 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. The 2012 rate, while the third lowest in state history, is a slight increase from the 2011 rate of 7.2, and the all-time low of 7.0 in 2010. Sampson’s stood at 7.0 for 2012, cutting its rate by more than half from 2011’s 15.5 rate and marking the lowest infant mortality rate in Sampson since the county reported a 6.4 rate in 2006.
According to the statistics for 2012, Sampson County reported three white non-Hispanic infant deaths for 2012, down from the four in 2011. African American non-Hispanic infant deaths — at two — and Hispanic infant deaths — at one — were similarly down from 2011’s numbers, which stood at seven and two, respectively.
Total deaths, as the rates would indicate, were cut by more than half from 13 in 2011 to six in 2012.
And that came despite a rise in the total number of births, with 858 reported compared to the 840 in 2011. In 2012, white births totaled 326, African American births totaled 210, Hispanic births numbered 300 and there were 22 “other” infant births.
Not only was the mortality rate reduced in Sampson for 2012, but the county also bumped trends of rising deaths and reduced births that was being seen in recent years. According to past statistics compiled through NCDHHS, Sampson had a total of 907 births and 10 infant deaths in 2009; 874 births and 11 infant deaths in 2010; and 840 births and 13 infant deaths in 2011.
However, in 2012, there were just six infant deaths of the 858 births.
Statewide, deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) continued a downward trend from 50 in 2011 to 28 in 2012, according to the data collected by the NCDHHS’ State Center for Health Statistics.
Continued challenges identified in the 2012 infant mortality data include a 7.8 percent increase in the African American Non-Hispanic infant mortality rate, with more than twice as many African American babies dying before their first birthday as white babies. The numbers are also increasing in the American Indian population as well, state numbers show.
In Sampson, the white infant mortality rate for 2012 was 9.2, down from 12.9 in 2011. The African American rate was roughly the same, at 9.5, for 2012, and down considerably from 2011’s spike of 34.8, which was a dramatic rise from the 9.3 rate just a year before, in 2010. Sampson’s Hispanic infant mortality rate in 2012 was 3.3, which has dropped significantly from the 6.5 rate in 2011 and 16.0 rate of 2010.
According to state health officials, nearly half of women who delivered infants were overweight or obese (48.5 percent). Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can increase the risk for Cesarean section delivery, longer hospital stays, gestational hypertension, diabetes, fetal death and birth defects.
About 20 percent of women ages 18-44 currently use tobacco; with 10.6 percent of women smoking during pregnancy in 2012. According to health officials, eliminating maternal smoking may lead to a 10 percent reduction in all infant deaths and a 12 percent reduction in deaths from perinatal conditions including premature delivery and low birth weight.
Sampson’s 7.0 infant mortality rate for 2012 bumped the trend of rising rates. The 15.5 rate in 2011 was up from 12.6 in 2010, which was similarly up from 11.0 in 2009.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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