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Infant mortality rate holds steady

COLUMBIA — South Caro­lina’s infant mortality rate is steady.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said Friday that the state’s rate in 2011 was 7.4 deaths per 1,000 babies born.

DHEC Director Catherine Templeton said that’s 12 percent better than five years ago, but that more progress is needed.

Officials say the mortality rate for white babies improved from 5.5 in 2010 to 5.0 in 2011, 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, and 423 infants died before their first birthday.

Templeton said DHEC will keep focusing on ways to bring the mortality rate down, such as promoting the use of folic acid to reduce congenital birth defects.

Clemson president has heart surgery

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clem­son University President Jim Barker is recovering from emergency heart surgery that was more extensive than projected.

The university said Friday that Barker’s family reports the operation was needed to bypass five blockages, though it was originally supposed to involve a triple bypass.

Barker is expected to be hospitalized for about a week, followed by medical leave. The university said its trustees delegated the president’s responsibilities to Provost Dori Helms while Barker is on leave.

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