46 states and 81 countries keep more of their babies alive beyond their babies’ first birthdays than does Louisiana.

“Infant mortality” is defined as the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. The “infant mortality rate” is the number of deaths of babies under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in that year. This rate is a standard measure of health for comparing states or countries. Experts believe how well a state or nation cares for its babies is a general measure of child well-being in a state or nation. How well people care for babies says much about their values and priorities.

Here’s the number for Louisiana: 8.1.

Using data from the Center for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics System, America’s Health Rankings latest Annual Report(1) indicates Louisiana’s infant mortality rate in 2016 was 8.1 infant deaths per 1,000 births. 8.1 means one out of every 123 babies born in Louisiana did not celebrate her or his first birthday.

An April 30, 2017 article in The Advocate titled, “Louisiana sees drop in infant deaths, but why does it still lag behind most of nation?“(2), reports “Louisiana averages 7.63 per 1,000 babies who die before they are 1 year old”. The Advocate article reports what appears to be the 2014 infant mortality provided by the Louisiana Department of Health. In 2014, at 7.63, one out of every 131 Louisiana babies did not celebrate her first birthday.

Data provided in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact Book(3), show Louisiana’s infant mortality rate is worse than that of 81 countries including the likes of Lebanon, Russia, Qatar, Guam, the Faroe Islands, Malta, South Korea, Macau, Sri Lanka, Cuba and Costa Rica. Louisiana’s infant mortality rate lags behind the current rates of the second world, former communist-socialist and Soviet Bloc countries such as Ukraine, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Slovakia, and Latvia.

A baby born in Uruguay, Bulgaria, Russia or Curacao is more likely to see her first birthday than one born in Louisiana. So, whether one uses Louisiana’s data or the federal data about Louisiana, one thing is clear: Louisiana’s infant mortality rate must be corrected. 81 countries are proof that Louisiana can do better!

Rick Wheat
President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services


1. http://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/2016-annual-report/measure/IMR/state/LA
American Health Rankings reports the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System’s report of Louisiana’s 2016 Infant mortality rate at 8.1 (48 among the 50 states) and the 2016 U.S. Infant Mortality Rate at 5.9. America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report is the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis.

2. Louisiana sees drop in infant deaths, but why does it still lag behind most of nation?

3. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/fields/354.html#US

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