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Grants Awarded In State's Latest Effort To Fight High Infant Mortality Rate

The Indiana State Department of Health has announced the recipients of $13 million in grants aimed at stemming Indiana’s high infant mortality rate.

The money comes from the departments Safety PIN grant program, which the state legislature created in 2015 as a response to the concerning trend.

In, 2014, the state’s infant mortality rate was 7 per every 1000 births, compared with the national average of 5.8.

IDSH Director of Maternal and Child Health Martha Allen says infant mortality—which refers to babies dying before turning 1— is a difficult problem to address, because the problem doesn’t stem from a single cause. Infant mortality is associated with low birth weight, mothers who smoke and unsafe sleep practices, among other factors. The problem also disproportionately affects children of teenagers, as well as and African-Americans and Latinos.

Allen says the ten recipients are diverse because the causes of infant mortality are too.

“We had applications that supported things such as safe sleep sudden infant death syndrome, premature birth, low birth weight..." says Allen.

The ten organizations are a mix of rural and urban, large and small. 

“They’re approaching it from a variety of different manners, whether that’s home visiting for mom and baby or safe sleep initiatives, for example,” says Allen.

Recipients included the Indiana Hospital Association, Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana and Aspire Indiana Health, a community health center in Madison County. 

Aspire Executive Director Jerry Landers says he just learned about the grants Wednesday afternoon so can’t say for sure, but the the organization expects to receive $2 million over two years. His county has one of the highest rates of infant death in the state, Landers says, thanks in part to its declining economy.

“The social determinants of health are real when you talk about housing, employment, other things, they impact health care.”

Allen says the selection committee took geography into account. She also says the department focused on programs that provided education and one-on-one counseling to disproportionately affected groups, such as minorities and teens.

The ISDH is awarding grant money to:

-Aspire Indiana Health (Madison County)

-Community Hospital (Anderson)

-Community Wellness Partners’ “Speak Life: Here to Stay” initiative (St. Joseph County)

-Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana

-Greene County General Hospital

-Indiana Hospital Association

-IU WeCare Plus, (central and eastern Indiana)

-Mental Health America of Lake County

-One Community One Family (Franklin County)

-Union Hospital (Vigo County)

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