State health officials say Alabama's infant death rate has fallen to an all-time low just a year after it was among the worst in the nation. The Alabama Department of Public Health says new figures show the state's infant mortality rate declined to 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. That means 435 infants died before reaching their first birthday compared with 537 infant deaths in 2016. The death rate that year was 9.1 deaths per 1,000 births. Officials say the improvement could be linked to fewer teen pregnancies and fewer women smoking while they are pregnant.
The head of the Health Department, Dr. Scott Harris says the improvements are encouraging. Harris says the state still has to address continuing racial disparities, health care access and the opioid epidemic.