Indiana’s infant mortality rates are not going down. In the past few years they’ve actually ticked up slightly. Health leaders gathered at an Infant Mortality Summit lead by Community Health Network to discuss ways to reduce Indiana’s high rate.
In 2016, 623 Indiana babies died before their first birthday. That's one of the highest rates in the nation.
The reasons are complicated and linked to Indiana’s poor health measures including smoking, chronic disease and poverty.
Community Health Network's Dr. Indy Lane spoke at the summit in Indianapolis. She says many mothers in Indiana do not get the recommended prenatal care.
"Because they have a lot of other obligations that at time seem like more of a priority," Lane says. "They don’t realize the impact it’s having on their pregnancy because they are just trying to get through the day."
African American infants in Indiana are twice as likely to die than white infants.
Counties with the highest rates of infant mortality are in northern and central Indiana.
Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) says access to care is one piece of the puzzle.
"Making sure that we have ancillary support, not only physicians but other treatment providers for wrap around services to make sure mom gets the support she needs," says Kirchhofer.
Other factors that influence infant mortality are unsafe sleep practices and premature births.
Areas where Indiana has improved include breastfeeding rates and reduced smoking during pregnancy.