Are Poor Health Measures Blamed For High Infant Deaths In Indiana?

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald January 23, 08:42 am
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Mourners gather around the graveside for the funeral of a baby girl who was found dead. The infant mortality rate in Indiana is at 600 per year.

(Photo : Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

High infant mortality rate is one of the main problems in Indiana. In fact, this year's report shows around 600 babies die in the state before their first birthdays annually. Poor health measures in the state are reportedly one of the reasons why such number of infant deaths is recorded every year.

In Indiana, a baby dies every 14 hours, making the state the eighth highest infant mortality rate in the United States. The other countries that have the same problem are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, where more than seven babies die for every 1,000 live births.

Dr. Jennifer Walthall said in a statement the problem is linked to the health measures in the state, NWI.com reported. Walthall, the former deputy state health commissioner and the secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, shared Indiana is the 39th state out of 50 in the United Health Foundation's 2016 America's Health Rankings.

Air pollution, smoking, obesity, childhood poverty, diabetes and low birth weight are also among the common risk factors when it comes to the high infant mortality rate in the state. Women's health is also considered one of the factors in the high number of infant deaths.

The state ranked 43rd for women's health and 33rd in infant health. For public health funding, Indiana ranked 49th out of the 50 states in the country as people spend around $41 annually regarding this matter.

In a 2013 report by the Indy Star, it was found the infant mortality rate in Indiana was 25 percent higher than the national average. During the time, Dr. William VanNess, the commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, said infant mortality is a huge challenge and this is the reason why it will be the number one priority of the state. However, not much has been done in the past three years although more than $17 million was allocated to fight the problem.

The said fund allocation went to grants for nonprofit organizations, the development of a mobile app for pregnant women and a marketing campaign focused on safe sleep practices and prenatal care. Despite these efforts, however, Dr. Debra Litzelman contended there are so many areas the country ranks poorly such as alcoholism, substance abuse, access to care and mental health, which are all related to risks for infant mortality.

Others also claimed women should not be blamed because poverty is also a factor. Women tend to live on desserts rather than fresh vegetables and they cannot always have bed rests when doctors advise them to do so because they cannot afford to miss their work. Fathers of the babies are also urged to listen to their pregnant wives and encourage them to go to their prenatal visits in order to lower the number of infant mortality.

Another cause of infants' deaths is unsafe sleeping practices. Some babies die due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed when they sleep with their mothers or their parents. Babies are advised to sleep alone, on their backs and inside a crib.

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