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State Study Finds Most Infant Deaths are Preventable

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RALEIGH — The number of child deaths has decreased in North Carolina by 25 percent over the past 12 years. While this is good news, a state task force says we still have a long way to go in order to protect children from illness, abuse and guns.

On Monday, the North Carolina Child Fatalities Task Force released its statistics for 1998.

More than 1,600 children died in 1998 -- some in accidents and some at the hands of others. Most children died as infants from health-related causes that were preventable.

The task force report shows the state has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the country; 1037 babies died in 1998. Only five states have a higher rate of infant deaths.

The study also shows that minority babies are twice as likely to die as white babies.

"That's the real issue we need to be looking at, having healthier women in the state who get pregnant. That's where our problem is," says task force member Dr. Docia Hickey.

What helps makes a healthy baby? Good prenatal care and good lifestyle choices. For example, staying away from alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

The task force is askingstate lawmakersto look at 12 legislative remedies aimed at protecting children.

One item is allocating $1.5 million for the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation, a program which educates women about good prenatal care and behavior.

Gun violence accounted for about 3 percent of North Carolina's child deaths in 1998:21 of those deaths were ruled suicides
  • 14 children were murdered
  • 8 of the fatal shootings were accidental
  • the cause of 2 shootings was undetermined
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