Infant mortality in Northeast Florida continues to be a major health issue affecting families. The rate increased from 7.3 to 7.9 deaths per 1000 live births in 2018, according to data recently released from the Florida Department of Health. There were 147 babies who died before their first birthday during the year, the equivalent of eight classes of kindergarteners. The regional rate remains higher than the state (6 deaths) and nation (5.8 deaths).
The Healthy Start Coalition’s Fetal & Infant Mortality Review project will release a review of all 2018 infant deaths this fall – the first full, in-depth review of deaths since the local FIMR project began in 1995.
The leading causes of death in 2018 were:
- Other perinatal conditions, including placenta complications, premature rupture of membranes and bacterial sepsis
- Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDs), which were largely sleep-related
- Prematurity/Low Birth Weight
Source: Florida CHARTS
The infant mortality rate varied greatly by county. Duval County, the population center of the region, at a rate of 9.5 deaths per 1000 live births – up from 8 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017. Counties with smaller populations like Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns tend to fluctuate from year-to-year, as a few additional or less deaths impact the rate much more than more populated counties.
Additional 2018 birth outcome statistics:
- There were an additional 134 fetal deaths, or stillborns, in 2018, a rate of 7.2 fetal deaths per 1000 live births.
- Black babies died at 3.5 times the rate of white babies. The black infant mortality rate was 15.6 deaths per 1000 live births, compared to a white infant mortality rate of 4.3 deaths per 1000 live births. The rate for other races (9.5 deaths) was similarly higher.
- Almost 13 percent of births were premature, while 10 percent were low birth weight.