CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Editorials

January 13, 2014

Infant mortality rate shameful

CULLMAN — Alabama has long been recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in infant deaths.

Gov. Robert Bentley and State Health Officer Don Williamson want to see a dramatic turnaround in this shameful statistic. Other than some sincere efforts by the late Gov. Guy Hunt and his administration, not much has been done to reverse the trend.

Alabama’s rate of infant mortality rose from 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 8.9 deaths in 2012. The national average is around 6.0 each year. Alabama consistently remains in the top three for infant deaths..

Bentley also pointed out the racial differences, noting that in the state 14.4 deaths occur among black babies compared to 6.6 for white babies.

Williamson and Bentley are offering what they feel will be long-term measures to reverse the statistics and keep the issue headed in the right direction.

Among the ideas on the table are providing cribs to low-income families so that babies will not sleep with their parents and risk suffocation; expanding a smoking cessation program for pregnant women; and reducing unintended births through providing long-acting reversible contraception to new mothers who want it before they leave the hospital.

At stake in the infant mortality issue is the moral ramifications of allowing such a problem to persist. Officials have been well aware of the high mortality rate for decades without providing a consistent means of attempting to resolve the problem. Alabama will be a more attractive, healthier state for its people when officials consistently work with the citizenry to eliminate issues that are devastating to life and the image of the state.

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