MONTGOMERY-The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announces the 2022 Alabama infant mortality rate was 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, a decrease from the 7.6 rate in 2021. Alabama’s infant mortality rate, however, remains higher than the provisional U.S. rate for 2022, which is 5.6. While Alabama’s rate improved, the national rate trended upward for the first time in 20 years.
Black mothers continue to have the highest infant mortality rate in the state. In 2022, the rate increased to 12.4 from the 2021 rate of 12.1. The infant mortality rate for white mothers was 4.3, a decrease from 5.8 in 2021.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “I am pleased that both the 2022 infant mortality rate and the 3-year infant mortality rate of 7.1 for the years 2020-2022 have decreased to the lowest rate ever. Births with maternal smoking also declined to the lowest ever recorded. The enduring disparity between birth outcomes for Black and white mothers, however, is disturbing. Despite advances in healthcare, the Black infant mortality rate is consistently twice the rate for white mothers. We must address the many factors that contribute to infant mortality, including poverty, educational levels, and access to medical care.”
State Committee of Public Health member Dr. Max Rogers commented, “We are heartened to learn that Alabama’s infant mortality rate declined in 2022. If this positive trend is to continue, we must follow evidence-based practices that have been shown to save lives, such as providing access to timely, adequate prenatal care.”
Dr. Eli Brown, another State Committee of Public Health member, said, “As an obstetrician/gynecologist who focuses on women’s health and delivering babies, I am troubled that a major predictor of whether a mother will deliver a baby preterm is her race. Improving outcomes for Black infants, along with infants of all races and ethnicities, is imperative. Births to mothers in hospitals which have a higher volume of deliveries improve the chance of healthy survival for high-risk infants.”
Statistics regarding Alabama births and pregnancies include the following:
· There were 58,162 births in Alabama in 2022 and 58,040 in 2021. There were 391 infant deaths in 2022 and 443 infant deaths in 2021.
· The percentages of low weight births decreased very slightly from 10.5 to 10.4, while the percentages of births at less than 37 weeks of gestation decreased from 13.1 to 12.8. Low birth weight is weight at birth under 2,500 grams.
· The percentage of births with adequate prenatal care decreased from 74.8 percent to 74.4 percent, and the percentage of births with no prenatal care increased from 2.2 percent to 2.3 percent. For births with no prenatal care, 60.0 percent were to white mothers, 21.2 percent were to Black mothers, and 18.8 were to mothers of other races. Medicaid was the payment source for 77.3 percent of the births without prenatal care, and the majority of births to mothers with no prenatal care, 54.3 percent, were to mothers aged 20-29.
· Overall births to teenagers continue to decline; however, the percentage of births to white teen mothers increased from 5.4 to 5.5 percent. There was a decrease in births to Black teen mothers in 2022 from 8.5 to 7.2.
· The percentage of births with maternal smoking was 4.8 in 2022, a decrease from 6.1 in 2021 and the lowest percentage recorded.
· About 25 percent of all live births occur with a birth interval less than 2 years.
Media Release/Carolyn Miller/ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH