Florida's Infant Mortality Rate Lowest in State History, But Increasing In Duval

Jul 23, 2015

Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Gornto says a number of factors combine to affect the rate on the First Coast.
Credit Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition

Florida’s infant-mortality rate is dropping, according to recently released state data. The report also shows Duval County has made some recent strides in reducing the number of babies who do not survive.

But the county’s infant mortality rate continues to increase, year over year.

Duval County’s infant mortality rate has risen from 8.2 to 8.7 deaths per thousand live births. Though it’s rising, it’s still lower than a recent high of 10 deaths per thousand births in 2006.

Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Gornto says a number of factors combine to affect the rate on the First Coast.

“I mean you can look at the recession, you can look at our economy. We have not expanded Medicaid, so a lot of people do not have access to health insurance to be healthy and get those preventative services they need,” said Gornto, “The key to infant mortality is prevention. But a lot of times we don’t know until the baby’s born, which is too late.”

But Gornto says the trend is generally moving in a positive direction.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Gornto. “The one thing that Duval County has going for it is it’s community collaboration. So their hospital’s know that infant mortality is an issue, and we’re all working together and we’re constantly having conversations about what we can do.”  

Gornto says doctors can help reduce infant mortality by talking to women about health issues before they get pregnant.