JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Last year, 137 babies died before their first birthday in Northeast Florida, according to the Fetal and Infant Mortality report released Thursday by the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.
The eight-page report covers Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
The report, which found the numbers didn't change a whole lot over the last year, does show a drop in regional numbers from 7.4 to 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is higher than the state and national numbers.
In Duval County in 2017, out of each 1,000 births, eight babies died.
"Some women may not get into prenatal care until the third trimester, whether that be due to transportation issues or insurance barriers and those types of things. But we also have to look at the social determinants of health,” said Faye Johnson, the CEO of Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.
Johnson said 20 percent of the babies who died were premature or had low birth weight.
Others died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, where in many cases, bed-sharing was a factor, according to Johnson. Despite increased awareness for safe sleep, some families still co-sleep.
"Is it because they may not have a safe place as we define safe to sleep? Or are they living in extended families with other families in the home?" Johnson asked.
It is recommended that babies sleep on their backs, alone in a crib or bassinet. Items like soft pillows and stuffed animals should be removed.
The report also finds African-American babies are dying at more than twice the rate of white babies in the community.
Johnson said the ZIP code with the highest number of infant deaths in Jacksonville was 32209 in Northwest Jacksonville. She also said there have been increases in the Arlington ZIP code of 32211 and on the Westside.
With the numbers and information found in this year's report, Johnson's hope is to spread more awareness and save lives.
The Healthy Start Coalition is hosting its annual Fetal & Infant Mortality Review community meeting Thursday morning at the Kids Hope Alliance to discuss the issue.
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