The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that infant mortality is at its lowest level in state history.
For the past two years, infant mortality rates had risen -- going from 7.0 per 1000 live births in 2010 to 7.4 in 2012. But last year, the numbers shot back down, returning to 2010 levels, the lowest in history.
“DHHS is extremely proud of the progress made in the health of our state’s women and infants," said Penny Slade-Sawyer, Director of DHHS’ Division of Public Health, in a statement. "The health of women before, during and after pregnancy directly influences the health of their infants. "
Despite the falling rates, there do remain rather distinct racial disparities in the data. African American and American Indian populations have rates twice as high as non-Hispanic White populations. Though even among those groups the percentage of infant deaths is dropping. The only group to see rising infant death rates in 2013 was "other non-Hispanic" with rates rising by about 4 percent.