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Study Finds Gaps In Insurance Coverage Hinder NC's Infant Mortality Rates

Infant mortality rate, by county
NC Child
Infant mortality rate, by county

Check out this interactive map to explore where your county stands on infant mortality rate.

North Carolina’s infant mortality rate is one of the worst in the country—only eight states have worse rates.

"The infant mortality rate in North Carolina has begun to plateau," said Laila Bell, Director of Research and Data at NC Child. "So while we’ve had more than two decades of a decline in infant mortality, that rate has essentially leveled off and we’re not making the same progress."

Bell authored a recent report that traces the root of the problem to a coverage gap in insurance. Statewide, one in every five women is uninsured. These women are less likely to receive preventative healthcare, and thus more likely to give birth to premature or low birth weight babies, Bell said.

Out of those uninsured, about half lack affordable healthcare options.

"They earn too much to qualify for public health insurance program but far too little to be able to afford private health insurance," Bell said.

She says the state needs to close the coverage gap to give more women access to the quality preventative care they need to increase likelihood of better birth outcomes.

Copyright 2016 North Carolina Public Radio

Susannah Roberson