Shelby County infant mortality rate on the decline - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Shelby County infant mortality rate on the decline

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

According to the most recent numbers in Shelby County, infant mortality is on the decline.

"Here in Shelby County (the infant mortality rate) has fallen below ten. That means that fewer than ten babies per thousand that are born in our community died in 2011," says the Director of the Shelby County Health Department Yvonne Madlock.

In 2000, 200 infants died. By 2011, that number dropped to 134.

"I think that this is really an indicator of the success and what really is possible is there is collective community will applied to a problem," says Madlock.

In this community, the effort to change the infant mortality rate has seemed monumental.

Catherine Joyce with the Urban Child Institute says, "We have a large minority population. Here we have a lot of poverty, a lot of working poor which means a lot of stress we know that those things underlie some adverse birth outcomes."

You also have to factor in other issues including a limited access to healthcare.

Madlock adds, "That may have to do with transportation, that may have to do with childcare if you have other children, may have to do with leave, if you can leave your job without having it cut into your pay.

Madlock says many new moms are so worried about how they're going to pay for a child. Most don't know about Tenncare's presumptive eligibility for pregnant women. It's based on their income, but it only lasts 45 days.

Another piece to the puzzle when it comes to the infant mortality rate has to do with our community leaders.

"Making sure everybody in the community really understands the risk of infant mortality for all of us, and the cost of infant mortality for all of us, so that we can support the kinds of activities and efforts that are going to be necessary," says Madlock.

In this case, the fruits of everyone's labor is slowly allowing these newborns a chance at survival.

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