Memphis TN-Highest Infant Mortality Rate in the Nation

Memphis ranks worst in the nation for woeful rate of infant deaths

When I read the statement above in Sunday’s paper I had to stop, take a breath and read it again…I was speechless. The Commercial Appeal published  a Special Report  in Sunday’s paper regarding the high infant mortality rate of babies in Memphis, TN.  The city has the highest infant mortality rate among the nation’s 60 largest cities.

The statistics are startling. It takes a moment to digest the fact that so many harmless babies die in Memphis each year before they even learn to walk. According to a 2002 federal report Memphis has 15 deaths for every 1,000 babies born. According to statistics an infant dies in Shelby County every 43 hours. This news is not only saddening, but it is depressing.

Why are so many babies dying in Memphis?  And why do the statistics show that black Black mothers nationwide are more than twice as likely to lose a child before age 1 than other women?

The area with the highest infant death rates in Memphis are within the cities’ zip code  38108. Zip code 38108 which is part of North Memphis, includes the neighborhoods of Douglass and Hollywood. This area has higher infant death rates than some Third World countries where babies die from serious malnutrition, illnesses and poor overall health care. This North Memphis neighborhood has a largely black population that struggles with issues of poverty and high crime rates. Teen pregnancy is at an alarming rate and young mothers often don’t have the knowledge, skills or money to carry, birth and raise healthy babies.

Watch this:

Over the years various programs have been set up to inform the public about healthier behaviors, parenting skills for mothers and knowledge about babies from pregnancy to childhood in efforts to reduce the infant mortality rate in Memphis. Many of these programs have diminished however some are still being operated and are trying to save the babies. Programs such as Community Voice  and Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative (IMRI) | All Babies Count aim to increase public awareness through education and outreach. These programs provide information and/or assistance to the general public and pregnant mothers.

If you would like more information concerning the Memphis Infant Mortality Rate or just Infant Mortality in general here are a few helpful links

Shelby County

Infant Mortality Facts

A Healthy Baby Begins With You

Tonya Lewis Lee

Infant Mortality Rate-Country Comparison

The Office of Minority Health


12 thoughts on “Memphis TN-Highest Infant Mortality Rate in the Nation”

  1. “Why are so many babies dying in Memphis? And why do the statistics show that black Black mothers nationwide are more than twice as likely to lose a child before age 1 than other women?”

    A really interesting finding I blogged about a while back:

    “…My colleagues and I found that African American women who delivered preterm, very low birthweight infants had approximately a two-fold greater lifelong exposure to racial discrimination than African American women who delivered term, normal birthweight infants.”


  2. i absolutely enjoy all your posting type, very exciting.
    don’t give up and also keep posting seeing that it simply just nicely to follow it,
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  3. Shelby County also has a fetal and infant mortality review team that is tasked with figuring out why babies are dying in Shelby County and determing what we can do about. Then putting those ideas into action. We are always looking for people to aid us in this effort. Please contact me if you are dedicated to helping end these staggering statistics.


  4. Truth is Im from Mississippi originally and most black people from Memphis are from or have grandparents in the Delta region of Mississippi and Arkansas. These areas have many homes that only have a frying pan. Fatty foods are eaten in large amounts and there are many black people both man and woman who don’t drink water because it’s “nasty and ain’t got no taste”. An epidemic number of black women don’t even see a doctor but once twice or maybe three times max during the entire pregnency and trust you me, in this area whites could care less. Their are white nurses who roll their eyes and throw lightly shielded insults while giving prenatal care and don’t give a hoot about the mother and child during delivery.
    Overall as the above poster said, we can’t wonder why whites don’t care for us and simply think, well I’m gonna move to a nicer white area. We need to look out for our own black women, their diets, and don’t think moving to NY is the solution. 94,000 abortions a year are carried out in NY, so that tells me that planned phood is doing all the prenatal care up there and by that devistating number you can see what their solution to a black pregnancy is.


  5. Mr. Chap I am pretty sure it does. I was surprised to find out that many women smoke AND drank while they were pregnant. I am the mother of two children and I didnt smoke or drink during my pregnancies because I didn’t want to harm my babies. So how people smoke and drink while pregant is puzzling to me. As far as the dietary habits it is easy to eat the wrong things when pregnant because many women crave foods that are high in sugar and fats. But if you visit the doctor as scheduled and they talk to you about what those foods can do to your health and the health of your baby it becomes easier to decrease consumption of those foods. BUT that goes into another problem area which is pregnant women who do not see a doctor as they should. Many don’t go into far into their pregnancies and many don’t take the prescribed vitamins and they miss their appointments.


  6. BlackGirl:

    When are blackmen gonna be held responsible for all of the chaos that results from their lack of concern for the lives of their black sisters? Oftentimes, the burden of not getting pregnant is left to young sistas who are babies themselves. A woman can’t get pregnant on her own, but the men are allowed to run away from their responsibilities, and it’s not fair. As men, we should have a heavier burden on our psyche, as it relates to teen and unwanted pregnancies.



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