NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Department of Health says 2018 had the lowest infant mortality rate in the state in three years.
According to officials, there were 38 fewer infant deaths in 2018 than in 2017.
Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before his or her first birthday; it is considered a critical indicator of the overall health of the state.
While the decline is good news, the state’s current rate is still higher than the national rate, with the mortality rate for black infants continuing to be nearly twice that of white infants, according to the state.
TDH created a data dashboard to allow community partners to access infant mortality data for their region. The dashboard assists partners in implementing prevention activities based on the most common causes of infant death in their area. The dashboard can be accessed here:
The state is also pushing an initiative about safe sleep for infants, since approximately 20% of infant deaths in Tennessee each year are due to unsafe sleeping conditions.
Safe sleep practices can prevent SIDS and other sleep-related deaths of babies. The Tennessee Department of Health promotes the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that infants should:
- Always be placed on their backs to sleep
- Sleep alone in a crib or bassinet, which can be in the same room as an adult caregiver
- Not have bumper pads, blankets, stuffed animals, toys or pets in their cribs
- Sleep on a firm crib mattress with the mattress covered only by a fitted sheet