MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Infant mortality has reached an all-time low in Shelby County, just a year after numbers were headed the wrong way.
The Shelby County Health Department reports the rate in 2015 was 8.2 deaths to 1,000 live births.
The 2014 rate was 9.6 per every 1,000 live births.
The target set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 6.0 deaths to 1,000 live births by 2020.
The rate measures infant deaths before their first birthday.
Reductions in the number of infant deaths are the result of improvements in early access to care, minimizing health risks, increasing breastfeeding rates as well as other education and outreach efforts according to the health department.
In Shelby County, the leading causes of infant deaths are primarily associated with birth defects, low-weight births, maternal complications from pregnancy, prematurity, and Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths.
Families are encouraged to do the following before, during and after a pregnancy:
- Plan the pregnancy and talk to a healthcare provider;
- When laying down a baby to sleep, it is also important to not have any loose items in the crib, such as blankets and toys.
- It is also helpful for a newborn's crib to be near the parents during the night.
- Be tobacco-free;
- Take a daily dose of folic acid (400 mcg);
- Begin prenatal care within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy;
- Know the ABCs of Safe Sleep: Babies should sleep ALONE, on their BACK and in a CRIB.