Indiana tries to reduce infant deaths after state report on top risk factors


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INDIANAPOLIS — Officials say they hope a recent report that looks behind the causes of infant mortality in Indiana will help prevent deaths.

Indiana had the fifth-highest infant mortality rate among states in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Jennifer Walthall, deputy state health commissioner, said officials are optimistic they can make "meaningful change" in reducing infant deaths, the Times of Munster ( ) reported.

The report found that a baby is most at risk if the mother is aged from 15 to 20 years old, enrolled in Medicaid and made fewer than 10 prenatal care visits. Women who had all three of these risk factors made up just 1.6 percent of births in Indiana but nearly half of infant deaths.

Roughly one-third of expectant mothers get no prenatal care in their first trimester.

"The single most important factor to reducing infant mortality for women across the state is access to early prenatal care," Walthall said. "To have something show up across the board is something we don't see in public health as often as we like."

Gov. Mike Pence's proposed budget includes $13.5 million to address infant mortality. The state recently launched its Labor of Love program to teach parents about health habits for babies, including safe sleep and breastfeeding.

Officials say the Nurse-Family Partnership could also see an expansion outside of Marion County. In the program, nurses make home visits to vulnerable first-time mothers from before they give birth to when their child turns 2.

Information from: The Times,

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