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July 28, 2010

SC infant death rate reaches 20-year low

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s 2008 infant mortality rate of 8.0 deaths for each 1,000 live births has declined by 6 percent from the 2007 rate of 8.5, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

The 2008 infant mortality rate is the lowest in 20 years and represents the third year in a row the infant mortality rates among black/other infants have decreased.

“We’re pleased to see an ongoing reduction in the number of infant deaths occurring in South Carolina,” DHEC Commissioner Earl Hunter said. “The overall decline is attributed to a decrease in neonatal mortality rates, or deaths occurring between birth and 28 days. There was a decrease in infants born at low birth weights and a decrease in infants born premature compared to the previous year.

“We’ll continue to work with our partners, such as the March of Dimes and our state’s private physician practices and faith-based organizations, to make sure pregnant women have access to needed services as that is vitally important to the overall health and well-being of both mothers and infants in South Carolina,” he said.

Hunter said congenital malformations and deaths among infants born too soon or too small continue to be the two leading causes of death followed by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Maternal complications of pregnancy and accidents were also among the top leading causes of death.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that every infant death impacts families and communities,” said Brenda Martin, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. “Although the overall infant mortality rate declined, SIDS deaths and deaths due to unsafe sleeping environments increased.”

Martin said parents and caregivers can improve a baby’s sleeping environment by placing infants on their back when sleeping, avoid exposing infants to second hand smoke and take the child to a healthcare provider on a regular basis.


A complete breakout of the data is available on DHEC's South Carolina Community Assessment Network (SCAN) website at:

For interviews:
Brenda Martin – (803) 898-3780
E-mail –

For more information:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
E-mail –