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Infant Mortality Statistics

Vital Statistics

1997 Trends in North Carolina Infant Mortality Statistics

  • The 1997 infant mortality rate of 9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births remained unchanged from the rate of the previous two years. There were 982 infant deaths recorded in 1997.
  • For white infants, the mortality rate was 6.9 per 1,000 births (522 deaths), while for other races combined the rate was 14.8 per 1,000 births (460 deaths).
  • The neonatal mortality rate (deaths occurring during the first 28 days of life) increased 6.6% overall in 1997; however the increase was much greater among minorities (12.8%) than among whites (2.1%).
  • The post neonatal mortality rate (28 days to one year) declined 12.9% overall in 1997, with minorities showing slightly greater improvement compared to whites.
  • The percentage of infants delivered very low birthweight (less than about 3 lb., 5 oz.; or 1,500 grams ) continued to increase in 1997. In 1997, 1.9% of all infants were delivered very low birthweight, representing an increase of about 6% over the percentage from 1996.
  • Minority women continued to experience markedly higher rates of low and very low birthweight births than did whites. These higher rates are responsible for much of the gap between white and minority birth outcomes.
  • In 1997, infant deaths related to prematurity increased substantially, while deaths due to birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome both declined for the second straight year.
  • The percentage of births to women under age 18 declined in 1997, accounting for 5.5% of all live births.
  • Approximately 1% of women giving birth in 1997 received no prenatal care, a 5.2% reduction from 1996. Approximately 83% of women began prenatal care in the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy.
  • Although more minority women started prenatal care early and fewer minority women received no prenatal care in 1997, there continued to be a gap between whites and minorities in use of prenatal care.
  • The percentage of women who smoked during pregnancy decreased by 3.9% (to 15.1%), continuing a downward trend over the past 10 years.

NOTE:Any percentage or rate with a small number of events in the numerator is likely to have substantial random variation over time. In order to properly interpret the mortality rates shown in this report, it is important to consider both the number of deaths and the rate. A rule of thumb is that any rate based on fewer than 10 deaths may be subject to serious random error, and thus should be interpreted very carefully.