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Infant mortality rate hits record low in Shelby County


MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The infant mortality rate in Shelby County has hit a record low.

Health Department Director Yvonne Madlock says data shows that in 2013, 9.2 babies out of every 1,000 died before their first birthday. She told The Commercial Appeal ( that it is "the lowest rate in recorded history in Shelby County."

The county recorded 127 babies who died before their first birthday.

The news came a year after data showed an increase in the mortality rate, which illustrated the challenge faced by health officials, hospitals and community leaders who are fighting to reduce the number of infant deaths.

The health department in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, reported the infant mortality rate in 2012 was 10.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. That was up from 9.6 in 2011 and 10.3 the year before.

"It happened because of a multitude of things," Madlock said of the lower rates, "and efforts on the part of many people, many agencies being sustained over a very long, very significant period of time."

County Mayor Mark Luttrell said, "We're pleased with the progress there and the fact that it seems to be sustaining now."

The programs to reduce the mortality rate include a variety of education opportunities, smartphone apps, social media and other initiatives, he said.

"We've been able to make the progress that we've made without an increase in cost," Luttrell said. "I take some pride in that because we're doing some things progressively without breaking the budget."

Information from: The Commercial Appeal,

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