Great News in Shelby County!


The Shelby County Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in 2015 was 8.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, the lowest ever recorded in Shelby County, TN.

“We have made significant improvements and are encouraged by the decreased rate,” said Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, director of the Shelby County Health Department. “We will continue to collaborate with all partners; partners who work tirelessly to ensure all babies not only live to celebrate their first birthday but thrive in a healthy community.”

The IMR, the rate at which babies die before their first birthday, is complex and results from a variety of contributing factors throughout the course of the mother’s life–before, during and between pregnancies. Reductions in the number of infant deaths are the result of improvements in early access to care, minimizing health risks, increasing breastfeeding rates as well as other education and outreach efforts.

“I’m pleased to see the drop in the infant mortality rate in Shelby County,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. “I commend the staff at the Shelby County Health Department and so many of our community partners. Their educational programs about healthy lifestyles have certainly assisted many mothers and their children at this critical time in their lives.

In Shelby County, the leading causes of infant deaths are primarily associated with birth defects, low-weight births, maternal complications from pregnancy, prematurity and Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths.
The largest decline in 2015 was in the rate of infant deaths among non-Hispanic Blacks, which went from 21.0 in 2003 to 10.6. Although Blacks experienced a significant decline in the number and rate, they continue to disproportionately experience infant deaths.

The national IMR target established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through Healthy People 2020 is 6.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, and Shelby County is headed in the right direction.

Families are encouraged to do the following before, during and after a pregnancy:

• Plan the pregnancy and talk to a healthcare provider;
• Be tobacco-free;
• Take a daily dose of folic acid (400 mcg);
• Begin prenatal care within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy;
• Know the ABCs of Safe Sleep: Babies should sleep ALONE, on their BACK and in a CRIB.

Decrease Your Risk of Preterm Birth — Shelby County Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative

Did you know that 1 in 10 babies are born too early in Tennessee? In Memphis, 13.7% of all babies are born prematurely or before 37 weeks gestation. Preterm birth is one of the leading causes of infant mortality. When a baby is born prematurely, he/she might need special care in the hospital. The baby is also at risk for life long disabilities or death.

See more information at Decrease Your Risk of Preterm Birth — Shelby County Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative

Premature Birth Report Card


The month of November marks Prematurity Awareness Month. Each year, the March of Dimes releases the Premature Birth Report Card during the month to provide an update on how each state is performing in regards to premature birth.

The 2016 Report Card looks at data from 2014 and grades each state based on that data. Tennessee received a grade of D and is ranked 45th in preterm birth, showing that a great deal of progress is to be made in improving birth outcomes for families in the state.

Shelby County’s preterm birth rate is 12.5%, compared to 10.4% in both Davidson County (Nashville) and Knox County (Knoxville) and 12.1% in Hamilton County (Chattanooga). The overall state rate is 11%.

In Tennessee, there are marked racial and ethnic disparities in preterm birth as well, with 14.2% of births to black mothers being preterm while 10.4% of births to white mothers are preterm.

The Shelby County Health Department works diligently to address factors that contribute to preterm birth by providing education and services for families to make sure that moms carry their babies to full-term.

For the March of Dimes’ full report card for each state, click here.

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Today, October 31st, children throughout Shelby County will go door-to-door for Halloween candy. “Please take time to plan your Halloween outing to ensure the event is fun and safe for your family,” said Dale Lane, Director Shelby County Office of Preparedness.

Here are safety tips for parents and kids:

  • Talk with your children about Halloween safety before the event.
  • Before leaving, lock doors, activate your alarm system, and keep your porch light on.
  • Charge your cell phone and take it with you.
  • Keep decorations away from heat sources (candles, lightbulbs, and heaters).
  • Move decorations and props away from doorways, porches, and sidewalks.
  • Use a battery-powered candle or glow stick in jack-o-lanterns.
  • Be seen! Wear light colored, costumes and add reflective tape.
  • Costumes, wigs and beards should be flame resistant.
  • Avoid trips and falls – wear well-fitting shoes.
  • Use non-toxic face paint instead of wearing a mask.
  • If children carry a prop such as a sword, purchase the flexible plastic or soft variety.
  • Try to complete the event before dark. If not, carry a flashlight or light stick.
  • Have an adult accompany younger children.
  • If older children go without an adult, parents should know their route ahead of time, and expected time of return.
  • Walk in groups.
  • If walking, stay on the sidewalk and cross at the intersection only.
  • Never dart out into traffic.
  • If driving, go slow and watch out for children and pets.
  • Adults should inspect treats before children eat them. Only eat factory wrapped treats.
  • If you notice suspicious behavior, alert the authorities immediately. Remember, if you see something, say something!

For more information about Halloween safety, please visit the United States Fire Administration at or the National Safety Council at

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

This is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. What do you know about lead? Have your children been tested? Have questions? Our Maternal and Child Health Program wants to help answer them! Call us today at (901) 222-9132.

Prematurity Awareness Month

October is coming to a close, and November – Prematurity Awareness Month- is right around the corner. Premature birth is a leading cause of infant death in the United States.

Premature birth is defined as a birth occurring before 37 weeks gestation. Being born preterm can prevent many important fetal growth and developmental milestones for babies. Babies who are born preterm may spend significant amounts of time hospitalized in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), and they may face lifelong health and developmental problems.

In 2014, 1 in 10 babies born in the US were born premature. According to the CDC, many factors can contribute to preterm birth, including:

  • Previous preterm birth
  • Being pregnant with more than one baby (twins, triplets, or more)
  • Problems with the uterus or cervix
  • Chronic health problems in the mother, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and clotting disorders
  • Certain infections during pregnancy
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or illegal drug use during pregnancy

For moms in Shelby County, there are resources for addressing some of these factors. 17P, a progesterone injection, is available for women who are at risk of preterm birth. The Shelby County Tobacco Prevention program can be helpful for moms who want to quit smoking. Additionally, any primary care physician or OBGYN can help mothers understand and assess their risks associated with preterm delivery and work towards having healthy and full-term pregnancies.

The March of Dimes has information regarding preterm birth and what you can do to help prevent it!

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month


In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the staffs of Shelby County’s Crime Victims Center (CVC) and Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County (FSC), co-located in midtown Memphis, want to prevent domestic violence through free programs and tours.

“We have a number of resources available at no cost. Domestic Violence continues to be one of the top crimes addressed by police officers and sheriff’s deputies each day throughout Shelby County,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. Domestic violence accounts for 56% of local violent crime. Last year, counselors at the Shelby County Crime Victims Center met in person with more than 800 non-intimate partner domestic violence victims of all ages. The Family Safety Center staff serves an average of 2,400 victims of intimate partner violence each year. The center is located at 1750 Madison Avenue.

“We want citizens to know the warning signs of domestic violence and immediately contact a law enforcement agency should they feel threatened,” said Anna Whalley, Administrator of the Shelby County Crime Victims Center. It’s one of 31 agencies that coordinate criminal, civil, social, and assistance services with the Family Safety Center, located in the same building as the crime victims center.

“This is a one-stop location for crime victims and their families,” said Executive Director Olliette Murry-Drobot. “The Family Safety Center provides victims of intimate partner domestic violence additional resources and helps ensure there’s a coordinated response by all agencies,” added Ms. Drobot.

Also during October, staff from the Shelby County Crime Victims Center and Family Safety Center can visit churches and community groups. To schedule a program or tour, call (901) 222-4400.

Go to for a list of Family Safety Center services, including the
warning signs of domestic violence.