Alabama program seeks to lower infant death rate

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is launching a program called "State of Champions" to try to reduce the state's high infant mortality rate.

State Health Officer Don Williamson and Gov. Robert Bentley said Friday it will take time to reduce Alabama's rate, which is traditionally in the top three among states, but they are determined to do it.

Williamson says the program includes expanding efforts to stop women from smoking during pregnancies, making sure low-income families have cribs so babies doesn't sleep with the parents, phasing out the state paying for elective early deliveries, and providing long-acting reversible contraception to new mothers who want it before they leave the hospital.

In 2012, Alabama had an infant mortality rate of 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. The national average is about 6.0.

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