Low-Weight Babies, High Infant Death Rate

Many area babies are being born too small and dying too soon.

Taylor County resident Kaycee Brown says she tried to follow all of the rules to give birth to a healthy baby, and it worked. But unfortunately, many babies in her community aren't born as healthy as now four-month-old Claire.

Last year 11 percent of babies born in Taylor County weighed less than the average five and a half pounds, with a huge disparity between black and white mothers.

Kaycee Brown said, "I received pre-natal care form here and from my midwife in Tallahassee. I believe it's very important to have, especially when you're a new mother and you don't really know a whole lot about it."

Infant death is another major concern for mothers in the area. In 2004, in Taylor, Jefferson and Madison Counties there were about 16 deaths per 1,000 births. For non-whites it was 29.

Tekeema Graham, a human services counselor at the Taylor County Health Department said, "Risk factors could be the mother is drinking, she's on drugs. A lot of minority women are at high risk because of high blood pressure, diabetes; that's what puts them at risk."

Health officials say to lower the risks of low-weight babies and infant death, expecting mothers should take folic acid everyday, get pre-natal care and follow doctor's instructions.

The Florida Health Department recently awarded several area churches "women's health" grants to help combat the problems through education.