Infant mortality rates have decreased by 15 percent in the past five years according to the latest report from the Mississippi Department of Health. The infant mortality rate in 2014 was 8.2 percent compared to 9.7 percent in 2013. Mississippi still has the highest rate in the country, however, and is ranked 50th in the country in infant mortality.
Racial disparities in infant deaths persist in the most recent report. Black infant mortality rates are double the white rate. According to a news release from MDH, most Mississippi hospitals have signed a pledge to eliminate early elective deliveries (unless medically necessary) which can lead to infant deaths. Premature births are the leading cause of infant mortality in the state, followed by birth defects in infants and unsafe sleep. Choctaw and Issaquena counties had the highest infant mortality rates in the state, while Rankin and Kemper counties boasted the lowest rates.
In a news release, state health officer Mary Currier said that special funding and partnerships with organizations, like the March of Dimes, have helped the state improve over the past five years.
"We know that much work must still be done, but Mississippi has the potential to continue our successful trend," Currier said in the release.