MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Infant mortality rates in South Carolina declined in 2020, but the state Department of Environmental Health and Environmental Control says the numbers are still above the national average.
Even though infant mortality decreased by 7%, the rates doubled among minority women because of a lack of education, resources, and inequality in health care, according to Kimberly Seals, director of maternal and child health at DHEC.
Recent DHEC statistics show that 364 babies died within their first year of life in South Carolina. The statistics indicate that black babies are more than twice as likely to die during birth. They also show the rate is 20% higher among births to Hispanic women.
Seal said there has been improvement in the overall numbers of babies dying but that for women of color the gap is still growing.
“We see that black and other women are not getting into prenatal care early,” Seals said. “We see that they are still having complications during pregnancy and delivery.”
Seals said South Carolina has maternity care desserts, and women do not have the proper access to high-quality prenatal and maternity care.
“Black and other minority women are experiencing chronic diseases, not receiving proper prenatal care,” Seals said. “Minority women also have the highest rate of premature births.”
DHEC is working with the South Carolina Hospital Association, The state Department of Health and Human Services and other community groups across the state to educate and implement effective strategies for giving every baby the best chance for a healthy life.