MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's infant mortality rate rose last year but remained among the lowest the state has recorded in more than 50 years, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The agency, in a statement released Wednesday, said the state's rate last year was 7.7 deaths for every 1,000 live births, above the rate the year before of seven deaths for every 1,000 live births.
The 2019 rate was the third-lowest in more than five decades, the department said, the infant mortality rate over the last three years was the lowest ever. Still, the state's infant mortality rate remained higher than the U.S. rate of 5.7 deaths in 2019.
Congenital deformities, problems related to low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome were the three leading causes of deaths among infants, accounting for about 40% of all infant deaths, the agency said.
Continuing a longstanding pattern, Black babies died at a disproportionate rate compared to white children, the department said. The infant death rate for Black infants was 12% last year compared to 5.6% for white children.
“As we work to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot overlook the need to assure access to prenatal care and address Alabama’s racial disparities in birth outcomes,” Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer, said in the statement.