Making Mothers Matter Again
Making Mothers Matter Again
Infant Mortality and Quality of Life in Indiana
“The Problem with infant mortality is one of the great social and economic problems of our day. A nation may waste its forest, its water, its mines and to some degree even its land, but if its to hold its own… its children must be conserved at any cost. On the physical, intellectual and moral strength of the children of today, the future depends.”
– Julia Lathrop MD
I. Infant Mortality- What is it?
Infant Mortality is described as the amount of infant deaths during the first year of life per 1,000 births. These deaths are due to a variety of causes ranging from inadequate prenatal care to poor care of infants after their births. Throughout this page, the focus will be regarding the rate of infant mortality in Indiana, how it compares to the United States’ average and how it impacts the quality of health in Indiana as a whole.
In the two pictures below, the graph on the right depicts how the United States of America has one of the highest rates of infant mortality per 1,000 births among developed nations, while on the left the graph depicts how states, specifically Indiana, have a rate of infant mortality which is continuously above the national average.
“If Indiana had the same infant mortality rate as the national average 56 more babies would have been alive in 2012.”
– Niceta C. Bradburn MD FAAP
II. Infant Mortality- Leading Factors
Not only is Indiana one of the worst states for infant mortality, the state also ranks high in several areas which affect individuals’ health, and later on- affect their children. For example, Indiana is one of the worst states in the country for smoking rates among pregnant women and over 35% of pregnant women in Indiana have confessed to abusing drugs throughout their pregnancy. Along with Indiana’s drug abuse problem among pregnant mothers, there is also an issue with pregnant mothers and obesity. This factor alone causes the mother to become 55% more likely to have a premature baby.
Another major factors not directly related to a mother’s health or actions before and during pregnancy is over half of pregnant women in Indiana do not receive any form of prenatal care. It is especially concerning that not only are a majority of Indiana women unable to afford or obtain adequate prenatal care, but there are over thirteen counties in Indiana without any clinics or resources for pregnant women to receive the necessary prenatal care. As the chart below displays, lack of prenatal care is a leading cause of infant mortality within Indiana.
As the chart above also displays, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is one of the major contributing factors of infant mortality for children between the ages of two and four months. The specific groups which are affected most by SIDS begins to bring up disparities in Indiana’s infant mortality crisis. From SIDS alone, African American infants are twice as likely to die compared to Caucasian infants.
“One baby dies approximately every thirteen hours in Indiana”
One of the most shocking things when talking about this current crisis both in Indiana and Nationally is the disparities between African American and Caucasian infants. In the United States, African American babies are two to three time more likely to suffer an infant mortality.
The video below serves as an introduction to the issues of disparities within infant mortality:
The graph below aims to demonstrate how significant these numbers are and how the disparity between race and infant mortality rate truly affects various minority groups in the state. The first graph displays the rate of infant mortality of both African American babies and Caucasian babies as well as the average between the two. The following two graphs, begin to hint towards reasons why there is a higher rate of African American infant deaths. In Indiana specifically, this is due to one major factor– poverty. There is a rise in teenage pregnancies among African American mothers, reinforcing the cycle of poverty as they are less likely to receive prenatal care and on average, these mother do not breastfeed their children either at all or for only a short period of time.
V. How to Improve Indiana’s Infant Mortality Crisis
IPQIC- Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative
This program was established and put into motion beginning in 2012, it purpose is to ensure all women of childbearing age will receive risk appropriate care before, during and after pregnancy. One factor IPQIC is working towards is ensuring hospitals work towards and maintain the ranking of a Level III facility. The IPQIC found infants born in Level I or II facility were 62% more likely to have a neonatal or predischarge mortality compared to those born in a Level III facility. Some policy recommendations provided by the IPQIC include:
- Population-based data on patient outcomes, including mortality, morbidity, and long-term outcomes,
- The functional capabilities of facilities that provide inpatient care for newborn infants should be classified uniformly on the basis of geographic and population parameters
- Coordinated Centers and affiliates are recommended to assure each newborn is delivered and cared for in a facility most appropriate to his/her needs and to facilitate the achievement of optimal health outcomes.
Encourage Breastfeeding Among Mothers
Studies from the The World Health Organization suggest breastfeeding is the single most effective way to prevent infant deaths. However, despite breastfeeding being the best way for an infant to obtain proper nutrition, In the United States., only 49% of mothers breastfed up to six months and according to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card, at twelve months, the number dropped to 27%. Breastfeeding has not only shown to prevent infant deaths, but promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects infants against infectious and chronic diseases.
Safe Sleep Campaign – ABCs
The Safe Sleep campaign is a program designed to prevent infant death caused from SIDS. Its purpose is to remind parents of the ABCs:
Ensuring their child is always Alone, on their Back in a Crib
Another helpful source devoted to raising awareness and preventing infant mortality in Indiana: http://www.in.gov/laboroflove/