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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jay Lynch, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Cell

Date: March 17, 2011


New data from Delaware's Division of Public Health shows that state initiatives are proving successful in reducing Delaware's infant mortality rate. The state's infant mortality rate decreased for the third consecutive reporting period, dropping by 10 percent to 8.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2004-2008. In the 2000-2004 reporting period, the state's infant mortality rate was 9.3 deaths for every 1,000 live births. The U.S. infant mortality rate is 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Infant mortality rates are the rate at which babies die before their first birthday. Delaware's previous five-year infant mortality rates include:

"Delaware's efforts to improve prenatal care are paying off,"said Governor Jack Markell. " We have made concerted efforts in recent years to find innovative strategies for healthy mothers and babies. It's gratifying to see progress on this public health issue. Having said that, we need to continue to work helping more young women deliver healthier babies."

"Our targeted efforts are making a profound difference in addressing women's risk factors for poor birth outcomes," said Dr. David Paul, chair of the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium.

Preventing premature and low birth weight deliveries and improving women's health before pregnancy are essential components to decreasing infant mortality. Delaware's percentage of premature births fell from 14.2 percent to 12.7 percent for the periods of 2003-2007 to 2004-2008. However, Delaware's black infant mortality rate remains 2.6 times higher than the rate for whites and remains a focus of reduction efforts. The mortality rate for black infants for the period 2004-2008 is 15.1, compared to 5.9 for whites and 7.7 for Hispanics.

In 2010, DPH's Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies program served more than 7,400 African-American women, women with health risk factors or whose most recent pregnancy resulted in a poor birth outcome. Established in July 2009 to address infant mortality, the program was recognized by the national Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs for providing evidence-based preventive services beyond the scope of routine prenatal care. Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies provides women at 17 sites statewide with the tools to maintain a healthy weight, eat a nutritious diet, include adequate amounts of folic acid, manage chronic disease, understand and mitigate environmental risk factors and work toward a tobacco- and substance-free lifestyle in addition to prenatal care.

"The collaboration between the Division of Public Health and Delaware's health professionals in implementing best practices is clearly a winning combination," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH's director.

Since 2007, this partnership has helped 210 women at risk for premature labor to receive preventive treatment with the hormone progesterone. Nearly 60 health care providers across Delaware offered progesterone injections with 70 percent of participating women delivering after 34 weeks.

For more information on the Healthy Women Healthy Babies program, go to

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.