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By deanna Krautner

July 28, 2015

Pasco Continues to Watch Infant Mortality Rates 

NEW PORT RICHEY— The Florida Department of Health released the 2014 Vital Statistics Report, with data now available on Florida CHARTS. Annual reports summarize data from original birth, life and death records filed with the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics and provide a view of population health changes.

“Infant mortality is an international bench mark of a community’s health.” said Mike Napier, County Health Officer. “These reports are critical to our work and help generate community action for work still needing to be done.”

Statewide the number of live births increased from 215,194 in 2013 to 219,905 in 2014. The infant mortality rate decreased to 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014, the lowest rate in Florida's history. There were increases in the Hispanic and Black infant mortality rates, 4.4 to 4.9 and 10.6 to 11, respectively.  In Pasco County infant mortality rates remain above the state rate and went from 7.7 per 1,000 births in 2013 to 6.4 per 1,000 births in 2014. This means that in 2014, 31 babies died before their first birthday in Pasco County. The Hispanic rate continues to be higher at 8.0 per 1,000 live births compared to the black rate of 3.2 per 1,000 and the white rate of 6.3 per 1,000 for live births. 

Reducing poor birth outcomes, including infant mortality and low birth weight, are the key goals of the Healthy Start Coalition and the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County.  Collaborative initiatives target behaviors that can lead to poor birth outcomes and effort focus on reducing infant deaths due to SIDS or co-sleeping rollovers, reducing the instance of substance exposed newborns and tobacco use among pregnant women.

“Next year the healthy start coalitions throughout Florida will be celebrating our 25th anniversary.  Throughout the years, the coalitions and its partner organizations have worked diligently to reduce infant mortality and low birth weight babies in Pasco County. ” said John Tschirhart, Executive Director of the Healthy Start Coalition of Pasco.  “While our work has resulted in much success, we still have a lot of work to do to reduce the risks associated with poor birth outcomes. We look forward to continuing to work with our collaborative partners to provide important services to pregnant women, children and their families in Pasco County.”

 “As we work with our partners to address common goals we remain interested in the number of pregnant women who smoke in Pasco.” Napier said. “Pasco experiences more than twice the state rate of pregnant mothers who smoke during pregnancy, 14.5% in Pasco compared to 6.5% for the state.  Connecting pregnant mothers with needed services can improve more than just mom’s health.”  

 “The Pasco County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention is also monitoring infant mortality rates” said Monica Rousseau,  ASAP Coordinator.  “Out of the 67 Florida counties, Pasco County currently has the 4th highest frequency of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a term given to babies born addicted to opiates and who experience withdrawal.  Early identification and referral to treatment of pregnant women with substance abuse has been one of our key initiatives for the last few years."

“Providing primary care which includes women’s and children’s service remains part of the mission of Premier Community HealthCare Group.”  said Joseph Resnick, Premier’s Chief Executive Officer.  “In addition, Premier will continue to work with our community partners to reduce infant mortality and low birth weight babies in Pasco County.”  

For more information about the Healthy Start Coalition of Pasco visit  For more information about Healthy Start services at DOH-Pasco visit For more information about Pasco County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention visit