Department Of Health Reports Increase In Infant Mortality

Nov 26, 2013

  The New Mexico Department of Health reported today that New Mexico’s infant death rate is above national levels for the first time since 1994. The state rate increased from 5.2 infant deaths per one thousand live births in 2011 to 6.9 in 2012.  The national rate is 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011. “New Mexico’s 2012 infant death rate numbers are very concerning. The New Mexico Department of Health will be monitoring the numbers closely to see if it was the beginning of a trend,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “The Department of Health will continue working on initiatives to improve birth outcomes.”  The main increase in infant deaths was in White and Hispanic infants in the neonatal period (under 28 days of age) in several cause of death categories. “Birth defects” and “disorders related to preterm births (before 37 weeks of gestation) and low birth weight” are the two most common causes of infant deaths. Those categories accounted for nearly 26% and 19%, respectively, of infant deaths in 2012.  The New Mexico Department of Health has been actively participating in a regional Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to reduce infant mortality since early 2012.   New Mexico CoIIN team is focusing on five strategies to reduce infant deaths:  1. Promoting safe sleep2.  Promoting smoking cessation.3.  Improving inter-conception care. (Increasing the number of postpartum visits and providing family planning.)4.  Eliminating early elective deliveries. 5.  Strengthening perinatal regionalization. (Ensuring that mothers give birth in facilities that can provide appropriate levels of care for them and their infants.)  New Mexico is also one of 13 states selected by the National Governors Association to participate in its Learning Network on Improving Birth Outcomes. The Learning Network is designed to assist states in developing, implementing and aligning their key policies and initiatives on improving birth outcomes as measured by the incidence of preterm births and infant mortality.  The Department’s Family Health Bureau has also been working closely with the March of Dimes for several years to increase awareness for the need for folic acid supplements. Research shows women of childbearing age who consume 400 mcg of folic daily are at a lower risk for having a child with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida, which is a major birth defect of a person’s spine.  “It is very important that women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, visit their healthcare provider. Healthcare providers can help lower a woman’s risk of having a baby with birth defects by encouraging them to follow some simple guidelines, such as not smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs that aren’t prescribed by their physicians,” said Secretary Ward.  For more information visit