Shelby Co. infant mortality jumps back to double digits - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Shelby Co. infant mortality jumps back to double digits

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (FOX13) -

After finally dipping below double digits, the Shelby County infant mortality rate went up in 2012, jumping from 9.6 deaths for every 1,000 births in 2011 to 10.6 in 2012.

"One or two events can change a rate drastically because of the way in which it's calculated. It's so many deaths per thousand live births," said Yvonne Madlock, Director of the Shelby County Health Department.

DOWNLOAD: Shelby County infant mortality 2003-12

In 2012, the county also saw 14 more infant deaths and almost 100 less births.

"It measures a single point in time and when we look at things over the long term pattern of what's happened as a community over the last decade, we continue to make great strides," said Madlock.

The infant mortality rate in 2003 was almost 15 per every 1,000 births. The rate in 2009 was the lowest before jumping back up to 10.6 in 2012.

"We tend to look at the rolling three year averages and that kind of smoothes out, averaging the average so to speak," said Madlock, "So you get more realistic sense of what's going on. You look at it from that perspective, it's declined."

There are a variety issues that hurt the infant mortality rate that boil down to one primary concern: The mother's environment.

"Was she well nourished, was she living under stress, was she using substances more than she should have, was she well educated and had good access to health care?" said Madlock, who added that it also includes the mother's underlying health concerns such as diabetes and hypertension.

The health department partners with community and medical groups to address these concerns. Still, they cannot predict what the 2013 infant mortality numbers will be.

"If we do the right things today, babies born in 2015, 2016 and 2017 have an opportunity to be healthier," said Madlock.

There are two apps created in Shelby County to help mothers: The Shelby County Health Department's B4BabyLife and the Healthy Shelby Safe Sleep Campaign's app Baby2Sleep.

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