A recently-released report from the state of Maryland boasts a significant drop in its infant mortality rate.
According to the report which was announced Aug. 8 at the Anne Arundel Medical Center by Gov. Martin O'Malley and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, the state's infant mortality rate remains at a record low of 6.7 deaths per 1000 live births in 2011—the lowest rate ever recorded in Maryland for two years in a row. The infant mortality rate is defined as the number of deaths among infants under one year of age per 1,000 live births.
"The bottom line is that our strategies for driving down infant mortality are saving lives," said O'Malley. "Over these past few years we've made great strides. We've been able to expand health care access to young women and parents, build on local public health efforts, and educate new parents on safer sleep practices. But progress is never inevitable – it has to be earned. We have to work for it – and therefore our work continues."
The O'Malley-Brown Administration has made driving down infant mortality by 10 percent one of 15 strategic goals to improve the quality of life in Maryland. Maryland's infant mortality rate has been driven down by 16 percent since 2008, when the rate was 8.0. In 2011, 493 infants lost their lives compared to 617 in 2008.
While many factors have contributed to the decline in recent years in overall infant mortality rates, disparities continued to persist in the African- American community where deaths occurred three times more compared to white infants. However, in 2011, African-American infant mortality fell in Baltimore City and Prince George's County, but increased in other parts of the state. Infant mortality rates have also remained high on the Eastern Shore, compared to other areas of the state.
"Through programs like our innovative Health Enterprise Zones initiative, we are now putting a greater focus on disparities in infant mortality and other diseases in order to continue our public health progress in Maryland," said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who leads the administration's health care reform efforts. "We must build on our success and continue working towards a day when every infant born in Maryland, of every race or ethnicity and from every community, has the same chance to survive and live a healthy, happy life."