There is some good news for South Carolina’s youngest citizens. The Department of Health and Environmental Control reports that the state’s overall infant mortality rate continues an overall downward trend for the past 20 years. South Carolina’s infant mortality rate was 11.2 deaths per 1,000 births in 1991 compared to 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births in 2010.
DHEC Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Lisa Waddell says South Carolina’s implementation of a regionalized perinatal care system has helped reduce the number of infant deaths. Perinatal care is the care of a fetus or newborn given before, during and after delivery, from the 28th week of gestation through seven days after delivery.
Waddell says ideally, pregnancies should be planned, taking into account the health of the mother prior to pregnancy. That includes taking care of nutritional needs as well as the proper monitoring and care of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Waddell says after the baby is born it’s essential to make sure the newborn is monitored carefully, including how and where they sleep. Waddell says with the help of private practice physicians, the Department of Health and Human Services, the March of Dimes and faith-based organizations, pregnant women now have more access to needed services, which improves health outcomes for the mother and her baby.
Waddell says racial disparities continue to be a challenge as the infant mortality rates for minorities in the state is 10.9 per 1,000 births. South Carolina’s rate for white infants was 5.5, slightly above the national average of 5.2.
AUDIO: Waddell says perinatal care is key to downward trend (1:16)