Infant mortality in Mississippi
- The infant mortality rate measures the number of infant deaths — children under one year of age — that occur for every 1,000 live births.
- Mississippi's average infant mortality rate has been around 10 deaths per 1,000 live births in recent years: one of the highest in the nation.
- The infant mortality rate for African-Americans in Mississippi is about twice that among whites.
Leading causes of infant mortality
- Premature birth or low birth weight
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Birth defects
- Accidents and maternal difficulties
Protect your baby before it is born
- Mothers should work to be in good health prior to becoming pregnant: address any chronic medical problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Eat a healthy diet supplemented with prenatal vitamins such as folic acid.
- Get a healthy amount of exercise.
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs.
- Get early and continuing prenatal care throughout the entire pregnancy, and follow the advice of your doctor.
Protect your baby after it is born
- Make sure that the infant receives appropriate care, including regular examinations, and all scheduled vaccinations.
- Breast-feed the infant if possible.
- Place the infant to sleep on its back (not stomach!) in a baby bed with a firm mattress with no covering, pillows, bumper pads or toys.
- Don't let anyone smoke around the infant, and make sure that anyone who wants to hold or touch the baby washes their hands first.
- Avoid exposing the infant to respiratory infections and other illnesses.
MSDH programs to prevent infant mortality
- MSDH provides prenatal care in approximately 18% of the 42,000 pregnancies each year — about 7,750 pregnant women. For most of these women, other sources of prenatal care are limited or nonexistent.
- Our Women, Infant and Children's Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) provides nutritional food packages to about 100,000 pregnant and nursing women and their infants annually.
- Our Perinatal High Risk Management/Infant Services System provides a system of care to pregnant women at high risk for health complications.
- MSDH screens every infant born for 40 different genetic disorders, allowing for rapid diagnosis and follow-up intervention.