MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recently announced the 2019 infant mortality rate of 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. The 2018 rate was 7.0, the 2017 rate was 7.4, and the 2016 rate was 9.1.
The 2019 rate is the third lowest Alabama has seen in more than five decades and the three-year (2017-2019) infant mortality rate of 7.4 is the lowest three-year mortality rate the state has ever seen. However, Alabama’s infant mortality rate has continued to be higher than the U.S. rate, which was provisionally 5.7 in 2019.
A total of 449 Alabama infants died before reaching 1 year of age in 2019; 405 infants died in 2018, and 435 infants died in 2017.
Longstanding disparities between birth outcomes for Black and White infants remain. Of the 449 total infant deaths, 47.7% (n=214) were attributed to the White race group, while 50.1% (n=225) belonged to the Black race group. The infant mortality rate for Black infants increased from 11.0 in 2018 to 12.0 in 2019, and the infant mortality rate for White infants increased from 5.1 to 5.6. The number of infant deaths following births which were preterm (before the 37th week of gestation) and low birth weight (under 2,500 grams) was 146 for the Black race group in 2019, compared to 111 deaths for the White race group.
The 2019 three leading causes of infant death remained the same as in 2018. They were as follows:
- Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities
- Disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, not elsewhere classified
- Sudden infant death syndrome
These causes accounted for 40.2% of infant deaths.
Regarding Alabama births in 2019:
- The number of live births increased from 57,754 in 2018 to 58,615 in 2019.
- While the number of preterm births increased, low weight births slightly decreased.
- Births to mothers with no prenatal care increased from 1,358 (2.4% of live births) in 2018 to 1,478 in 2019 (2.5% of live births).
- The percent of births to all teen mothers slightly decreased from 6.9% in 2018 to 6.8%.
- Smoking during pregnancy continues to decline among both teen and adult mothers.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “As we work to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot overlook the need to assure access to prenatal care and address Alabama’s racial disparities in birth outcomes.”
Center for Health Statistics Director Nicole Rushing said, “While fluctuations in infant deaths continue to occur, the Alabama Center for Health Statistics will continue to work diligently to ensure all infant deaths are reported.”
Graphs and detailed charts are available at the Alabama Department of Public Health website at alabamapublichealth.gov/healthstats/assets/IM_19.pdf.