South Carolina Sees Nearly 7% Drop in Infant Mortality Rates in 2020

In Summary

While South Carolina saw a decrease in infant mortality rates in 2020, the disproportionate impact on Black mothers is sparking major concerns. 

South Carolina’s infant mortality rate in 2020 was 6.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, down nearly 7% from 6.9 in 2019, per the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

The agency said 364 of the 55,713 babies born in the state in 2020 died within their first year of life. 

RELATED: California Bill Aimed To Lower Maternal Deaths in Black Mothers 

At 4.5 fatalities per 1,000 live births, white newborns had the lowest infant mortality rate, with the rate for babies born to Black women being more than double that number at 10.8. Infants born to Hispanic women died at a rate of 5.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 6.3 deaths for babies born to non-Hispanic women of other races. 

“The decrease in the number of infant deaths for 2020 is encouraging, but the report also spotlights areas where significant more work needs to be done to improve birth outcomes for women of color,” said DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler. “The disparity in infant deaths between white women and women of color is unfortunately widening and must be addressed.” 

Kimberly Seals, director of the department’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, echoed Traxler’s statement, saying while the report indicates some progress, minority groups continue to bear the brunt of these tragic losses. 

“We need better education among all expecting parents about how critical it is for pregnant women to receive consistent prenatal care by attending all of their checkups and following their doctor’s recommendations,” she added. “Making sure parents understand safe sleep practices for infants is also key for reducing accidental infant deaths.” 

RELATED: Nick Cannon Mourns Youngest Son Zen Who Died of Brain Cancer 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 21,000 infants died in the United States in 2018, with birth defects, preterm birth, low birth weight and injuries such as suffocation, sudden infant death syndrome and maternal pregnancy complications being the leading causes.

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