Infant mortality rate drops in Shelby Co. - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Infant mortality rate drops in Shelby Co.

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(WMC-TV) – The infant mortality rate in Shelby county is at a record low. The rate measures the amount of deaths per 1,000 births.

"It is a testament to what can happen when there is consistent, collective and focused public will," said Shelby County Health Director Yvonne Madlock. "We are addressing issues regarding access to health care, addressing issues related to the quality of health care that is provided to women."

Both, Madlock says, have contributed to the drop in deaths

In Shelby County in 1960, the rate was 30 deaths per 1,000 births. In 2003, it was 14.9 deaths. Just seven years ago in 2006, it was 13.8. That was the highest in the nation and even higher than some third world countries.

But now, Shelby County has an infant mortality rate of 9.6 deaths per 1,000 births. That is an all time low.

"Our infant mortality problem is related to too many babies being born too soon and too little," said Madlock. "We're studying the data to make sure that we have a better picture of who is at most risk to see what things work and what things don't work quite as well."

It is unclear how the rate compares with the rest of the country or world but health leaders say it is still higher than the state of Tennessee.

The state has an overall rate at 7.4 compared to Shelby County's rate of 9.6.

The county trend is headed in the right direction as health leaders remain focused on keeping every newborn alive through their first birthday and beyond.

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