Indiana’s mortality rate in infants is higher than the national average

Photo Supplied / Indiana Statehouse

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO) – The mortality rate in infants in Indiana was 7.5 per 1,000 births in 2016.  The national rate was 5.9.  That means 623 infants died before turning one year old according to the Journal Gazette.

Governor Eric Holcomb says “We need to see more babies in Indiana celebrate their first birthdays.”  Gov. Holcomb’s administration is wanting two new initiatives as part of his 2019 legislative agenda, which would cost $4.4 million a year.

There have been many factors that contribute to the problem.  Often times, infant deaths are caused by premature birth or sleeping practices.  Preterm births can be caused by smoking, obesity, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, substance abuse or lack of prenatal care.  According to Paige Wilkins, executive director to Healthier Moms and Babies in Allen County, “It’s hard to pinpoint one reason because it’s multifaceted.”  She then adds, “Many have lower incomes and are on Medicaid. This is about a lot more than just access to care.”

As far as Allen County goes, 46806 was one of the 13 worst ZIP codes. Northeast Indiana was also at the state average of 7.5 with 80 infant deaths.  According to Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner, Indiana had some improvement in the data from 2017.  The rate went down from 7.5 to 7.3.  White and Hispanic rates went down and black infant mortality rates went up through the state.  Of course, since the data that they track is for infants up to one year old, the final numbers for 2017 have not been completed.

Dr. Box would like to continue progress and ask lawmakers to create an obstetrics navigator program costing $3.3 million a year.  She states “The goal of OB navigation is to connect high-risk women who receive Medicaid in the areas surrounding our highest-risk areas to a community-based health care worker to address those factors that we know are associated with increased infant mortality.”  Women will be visited in their homes by the navigators to provide them with education and supports fir the new mothers.

Another program proposed, would make Indiana the first state to require medical providers to use a standard five question verbal screening too to assess all pregnant women for substance abuse.  This will give us the ability to connect them to treatment.  Many details are still being worked out for both programs and must first be approved by lawmakers in the January legislative session.




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