After remaining stagnant for two years, in 2015 the infant mortality rate dropped in Northeast Florida from 8 deaths per 1000 live births to 7.1 deaths. The fetal death rate also dropped from 2014 to 2015 (from 8.3 deaths per 1000 live births to 7.1 deaths in 2015).
Duval County, the population center of the region, continues to drive the region’s rate with 7.9 deaths per 1000 live births. From 2013- 2015, Baker County had significant fluctuations, while Clay and St. Johns counties had sizeable decreases. Rates in smaller counties can fluctuate significantly from year to year, as a few additional or less deaths impact the rate much more than larger counties.
Significant racial disparities continue to exist: Black mothers are almost twice as likely to experience a fetal death (10.2 deaths per 1000 live births, compared to 5.4 deaths) and almost two and half times as likely to experience an infant death (11.1 deaths compared to 4.8 deaths) as white moms. This trend has been consistent over the past five years.
There were 26 sleep-related deaths in 2015. Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDs) are higher in Northeast Florida than the state. Bedsharing is a leading factor identified in sleep-related deaths — in 2015, bedsharing was found in 58 percent of sleep-related deaths by the medical examiner.