After a string of recent, tragic national events, it was encouraging to read that infant death rates have decreased 12 percent in the U.S. since 2005 with the biggest gains being made in the South (“Infant mortality rates drop in the U.S.” April 18).
However, the national focus of the article missed an opportunity to highlight North Carolina’s progress and commitment to improving the health of women and babies. For the past two years N.C.’s infant mortality rate has been at an all-time low; SIDS deaths are half the number reported in 2009.
Dr. Jeff Livingston’s April 24 article, “Small cost, big effect for healthy babies,” identifies programs supported by the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force that have contributed to improving infant health and which need state funding. With more than 120,000 N.C. babies born each year, the need to reach women and families before, during and after pregnancy is critical. The $1.6 million spent on helping babies to be born healthy and stay healthy is “budget dust” compared with the more than $50 million spent annually by N.C.’s Medicaid program to care for babies born too small or too early. Prevention pays.
Janice A. Freedman
Executive Director, North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation, Raleigh