News Releases

News Releases

2018 South Carolina Infant Mortality Report Released

For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2019

Columbia, S.C. – New data released today by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shows that South Carolina's infant mortality rate increased to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 births. In 2017, the state’s infant mortality rate was 6.5 deaths per 1,000 births.

“One death of a newborn is one too many,” said Nick Davidson, DHEC’s interim director of Public Health. “DHEC remains committed to working with our partners to decrease infant mortality in South Carolina and ensure healthier moms and babies.”

While 2018 shows an increase in the infant mortality rate, the overall rate has decreased significantly over the past two decades. Since 1999, there has been a 30 percent decrease in infant mortality. However, racial disparity remains a concern in South Carolina.

In 2018, the infant mortality rate among the minority population increased from 9.0 to 11.1 deaths per 1,000 births and was 2.2 times higher than in the white population. Meanwhile, the number of infant deaths due to maternal complications of pregnancy decreased 32.4 percent, from 34 deaths in 2017 to 23 in 2018.

The top five leading causes of infant death overall in 2018 were birth defects, disorders related to short gestation and low birthweight, accidents, maternal complications of pregnancy, and bacterial sepsis.

“While some risk factors for infant mortality are related to access to care, there are many practical steps that women can take before and during pregnancy, as well as things that caregivers can do after a baby’s birth to help prevent some types of infant deaths,” said Kimberly Seals, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health.

To reduce the risk of sleep-related accidents, the most important work begins at home. DHEC’s Seals recommends the following steps to help promote infant safety:

Remember the ABCs: leave your baby Alone on their Back in their Crib without blankets, pillows or bumper pads.

Get healthy before you get pregnant:

  • Quit smoking – Pregnant women can call our Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help.
  • Get chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension under control.
  • Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should take a multivitamin that includes at least 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.

The agency’s partners include organizations such as the SC Hospital Association, SC Department of Health and Human Services, and SC Chapter of the March of Dimes, who collectively explore and implement innovative strategies that promote improved pregnancy and health outcomes for mothers, babies, and families in our state.


Note to editors: For more detailed 2018 Infant Mortality data, visit DHEC’s website here.

Click here to view a video about reducing head trauma.

Click here to view a video on the ABCs of Safe Sleep.



Data & Reports Media Relations News Release Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Statewide