The landscape of infant deaths in Duval County has altered over the last few years, with rates improving in historically high areas of the city like Health Zone 1 and rising in three new zip codes: 32210, 32211 and 32218. Premature birth is the leading cause of death in all three zip codes. (Note: 2014 data is still provisional and is subject to change.) More than a quarter (26 percent) of the 143 infant deaths in Northeast Florida in 2014 were in these zip codes. A recent analysis by the Fetal & Infant Mortality Review Case Review Team found that black babies were more likely to die and prematurity, particularly very premature birth, was the cause in two-thirds of all cases. Sleep-related deaths, which have increased in the region over the last few years, accounted for twenty percent of the deaths.
FIMR reviews specific cases and looks at the overall infant deaths in the region to identify gaps in services and make recommendations to improve birth outcomes each October at the annual FIMR Community Meeting. The Community Action Team then implements and develops street-level outreach activities to educate families based on the recommendations.
- Location: The westside of Jacksonville, between Normandy and 103rd Street.
- Situation: The infant death rate has doubled (from 8 deaths to 16) from 2012 to 2014.
- Cause: 75 percent due to prematurity. Two-thirds of the prematurity deaths were babies born before 26 weeks.
- Deaths by race: 63 percent black, 25 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic.
- Location: The northwest sector of the city, north of the Trout River
- Situation: the infant death rate has increased by 50 percent from 8 to 12 from 2012 to 2014.
- Cause: 67 percent due to prematurity. Three-quarters of the prematurity deaths were babies born before 26 weeks
- Deaths by race: 75 percent black, 17 percent white, 8 percent Asian
- Location: the Arlington area between Merrill, Southside, Atlantic and the St. Johns River
- Situation: An increase from 7 to 9 deaths since 2012.
- Cause: 55 percent due to prematurity, all deaths were babies born before 26 weeks
- Deaths by race: 33 percent black, 11 percent Haitian, 22 percent white, 22 percent Hispanic.
Babies born premature — before they are fully developed, usually prior to 37 weeks — are at a higher risk for both death and lifelong complications. Complications from prematurity include respiratory issues, intestinal issues, vision loss, jaundice, anemia, brain hemorrhage and serious, deadly infections. A mother’s health prior to and during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of preterm birth:
- Get early and consistent prenatal care. Even if you’ve had a baby before, your doctor can identify any issues that may impact your pregnancy.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking & drugs, which can negatively impact your health and the health of your baby.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Eat plenty of fruits & vegetables.
- Control any health conditions that you may have, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Space your pregnancies 18-24 months apart to allow yourself time to physically and emotionally recover.
Sleep-related deaths, which accounted for one-fifth of the deaths in the three zip codes and nearly the same throughout the region, can be largely reduced through safe sleep practices. Babies are safest alone, on their backs and in a crib.