By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Alcorn County had the second highest infant mortality rate out of the 20 most populated counties in the state, according to a new report from the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Alcorn County had an average infant mortality rate of 12.3 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2012-2016, the report released this week says.
Out of the 20 most populated counties in the state, Forrest County had the highest rate of 12.5 closely followed by Alcorn County.
But Alcorn County had the highest black infant mortality rate among the top 20 counties. Alcorn County’s black infant mortality rate was 30.8 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to 8.2 for whites. That means the black infant mortality rate was 275 percent higher than the rate for whites in Alcorn County.
Out of the 20 most populated counties, the county with the next highest black infant mortality rate after Alcorn County was Pearl River County at 25 infant deaths per 1,000 live births and then Oktibbeha at 17.3.
Statewide, the infant mortality rate decreased overall in 2016. But the white infant mortality rate increased in 2016 while it decreased for blacks.
The leading causes of infant mortality are preterm births, birth defects and sudden unexpected infant deaths, especially due to unsafe sleeping environments. Mississippi has the highest preterm birth rate in the country.
Statewide, there were 37,928 births in 2016 and 327 infant deaths, the report adds.
The state has set a goal of lowering the infant mortality rate to 6 per 1,000 live births by 2020. Mississippi has the worst infant mortality rate in the nation, the report says.
Factors such as tobacco use, obesity and diabetes can impact infant health. There has been a decline in tobacco use during pregnancy in recent years. About a quarter of infant deaths occurred among mothers who smoked during pregnancy.
Click here to read the report from the Mississippi State Department of Health.