COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's infant mortality rate is steady.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control said Friday the state's rate in 2011 was 7.4 deaths per 1,000 babies born.
DHEC Director Catherine Templeton says that's 12 percent better than five years ago, but more progress is needed. Officials say the mortality rate for white babies improved from 5.5 in 2010 to 5.0 last year. But non-white infants died at 2.4 times the rate as white babies in 2011, up from 2.0 times the deaths in 2010.
More than 57,000 births were recorded in South Carolina in 2011, but 423 infants died before their first birthday.
Templeton says DHEC will keep focusing on ways to bring the mortality rate down, like promoting the use of folic acid to reduce congenital birth defects.