Infant mortality rate up in Alabama, still higher than U.S. average

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Alabama’s infant mortality rate increased to 7.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2021, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced today. In comparison, the rate for 2020 was 7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

That’s higher than the U.S. average of 5.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

A total of 443 infants died during their first year of life in Alabama. Infant and fetal deaths, live births and estimated pregnancies all rose from 2020 to 2021.

Breaking down the statistics:

  • Black mothers have the highest infant mortality rate, at 12.1 deaths per 1,000 births
    • In 2020, the rate was 10.9.
  • White mothers have a rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births.
    • In 2020, the rate was 5.2
  • Hispanic mothers had an infant mortality rate of 5.2 in 1,000 births in 2021.
    • In 2020, the infant mortality rate among Hispanic mothers was 7.2.

“While there were several positive indicators of progress in 2021, decreasing infant mortality remains a significant challenge,” said ADPH State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. “Infant mortality is closely related to social determinants of health, such as race, poverty and education.”

Live birth statistics include:

  • Overall, live births increased to 58,040 in 2021, up from 57,643 in 2020.
  • Births to mothers who are Black or non-Hispanic decreased to 19,170 in 2021, down from 20,151 in 2020.
  • Births to white mothers increased to 38,870 in 2021, up from 37,492 in 2020.

Other trends include:

  • Low-weight births decreased from 10.8 to 10.5 in 1,000 births.
  • Births with no prenatal care decreased from 2.6% in 2020 to 2.2% in 2021.
    • 52.5% were to white mothers.
    • 52.4% were to mothers ages 20 to 29.
    • 74.7% were paid by Medicaid.
  • Teenage pregnancies and births declined, but the percentage of births to Black teen mothers increased from 8.3 in 2020 to 8.5 in 2021.
  • Births with a smoking mother were at 6.1 in 1,000 births in 2021, the lowest percentage recorded.

View the full details below:

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