BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – As the Children’s Services Council (CSC) of Palm Beach County celebrates Infant Mortality Awareness Month, the organization will announce new numbers that recognize Palm Beach County as a national leader in reducing the rate of black infant deaths to a 20-year low.

The event, “Oh, What Fun! Look Who’s One! Birthday Celebration” will be held on Sept. 5, at 9:30 a.m. at the Riviera Beach Marina Village Event Center located at 190 E. 13th St., Riviera Beach.

Infant mortality, the death of a child before his or her birthday, continues to be a major social crisis and health care concern in our state and county. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. For too long, black babies have had a higher infant mortality rate than non-Hispanic whites and are more likely to die from complications related to low birthweight and premature birth, and black mothers are more likely to receive late or no prenatal care.

“Infant mortality is always tragic, both for the family and the community,” said Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County. “We hope that the work being done in Palm Beach County to emphasize the importance of prenatal care, early doctor visits, reducing stress and focusing on healthy behaviors will continue to reduce the overall rates and lower the racial disparities.”

The CSC reports that black infant mortality rate for Palm Beach County dropped in 2017 to the lowest point in 20 years. The Palm Beach County Black infant mortality rate is 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 births, well below the statewide rate of 10.8 (black infant mortality, for this calculation, combines black non-Hispanic and Haitian). The racial disparity gap narrowed from 2.37 in 2016 to 1.58 in 2017, the smallest gap in the past five years.

While the drop is noteworthy, racial disparities persist. The infant mortality rate for Black non-Hispanics in 2017 is more than double the rate for White non-Hispanics, and the rates for both Hispanics and Haitians also remain higher than the White non-Hispanic rate.

With the help of its local partners, CSC developed a comprehensive system of programs to help reduce infant mortality and address racial disparities. These include the Women’s Health Initiative Nurses (WHIN) program that addresses the health and wellness needs of black women who are either pregnant or have a baby, and Community Voice, a program that supports behaviors to promote healthy pregnancies through education and healthy lifestyles.

In addition, the CSC has resumed funding of the Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) through the Florida Institute of Health Innovation. The FIMR works to understand how a wide array of social, economic, health, educational, environmental and safety issues relate to infant deaths, and presents that information to improve community resources.

For more information on racial disparities in birth outcomes, visit CSC’s E-Learning site: 5.html.