Fetal and infant mortality rates decline in Douglas County

Omaha, NE – A new report shows the fetal and infant mortality rate in Douglas County is on the decline. But it's still well above the national average.

The Douglas County Health Department released the report Wednesday. It shows the fetal and infant mortality rate was 8.2 between 2005 and 2008. The rate is calculated based on number of deaths per 1,000 births plus fetal deaths. While the Douglas County rate is an improvement, it's well above the national rate of 5.7.

Mary Balluff, Chief of Community Health and Nutrition Services for the Douglas County Health Department, says the fetal and infant mortality rate for black mothers is twice that of white moms. Balluff says there are multiple reasons for that, including more SIDS deaths and higher prematurity rates.

Balluff and a group called the Baby Blossoms Coalition are working to find ways to bring down the county's infant mortality rate even further. Among their initiatives are making sure women get prenatal care as early as possible, and educating teenage girls about the importance of a reproductive health plan.