North Carolina has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation. The Perinatal Health Strategic Plan developed in 2016 outlines steps for improving it.
In 2016, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate ranked worse than all but seven states. The state average of 7.2 deaths per 1,000 births masked significant disparities by race, ethnicity, and geography. African American babies were more than twice as likely to die as non-Hispanic White babies and the infant mortality rate in some counties was more than three times that in others. Spurred to action by this data, health experts, practitioners, and advocates came together to develop a statewide Perinatal Health Strategic Plan for 2016-2020.
The plan builds on research showing that birth outcomes are influenced by a wide variety of factors, including parents’ health and mental health. It uses the 12-Point Plan to Close the Black-White Gap in Birth Outcomes: A Life Course Approach developed by researchers at University of California Los Angeles, Boston University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the foundation to achieve three population goals:
- Improve healthcare for women
- Strengthen families and communities
- Address social and economic inequities
The North Carolina Division of Public Health is working with communities to identify specific actions that can be taken at the state and community levels to implement the plan and improve the health of families and their babies. The Strategic Plan includes steps to address: improving health care for men and women, strengthening families and communities, and addressing social and economic inequities.
Read North Carolina’s Health Equity Report released in April 2018 for more information pertaining to the state’s racial and ethnic disparities.
Reviewed July 2018.