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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Preliminary report shows decrease in infant fatalities

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By WHITNEY DOWNARD

nfant mortality ticked up in 2022 but preliminary data for the 2023 analysis of infant deaths indicates deaths may be decreasing. (Getty Images)

A 2024 report analyzing 2022 infant death records with a preliminary glimpse at 2023 fatalities found that deaths decreased between the two years, from 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births to 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. Roughly 11 babies died every week in 2022 for a total of 577 children who died before their first birthday.

“Every baby lost is a tragedy,“ State Health Commissioner Lindsay Weaver said in a release. “Although it’s preliminary, we are encouraged to see that infant mortality is declining in Indiana, and we’ll continue working to understand the causes of these deaths so even more can be prevented.”

The national average for 2022 infant mortality was 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate for Black, non-Hispanic children continued to outpace their peers, with a rate of 14.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2022, or 140 children. Hispanic children of all races had a rate of 7.9 deaths per 1,000 births followed by white children at 5.6 deaths per 1,000 births. 

In 2016, the rate of infants dying reached 7.5 deaths per 1,000 births compared to the national average of 5.9 deaths per 1,000 births.

The data, released in a presentation format, included any death in which a child died before their first birthday in 2022. Because all of the death records are from 2022, some births may have occurred in 2021 or be related to pregnancies from 2020. Deaths and births are both reported by the Health Vital Records division of the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH). 

As the presentation notes, infant mortality is considered to be the number one indicator of health status in the world. The greatest contributing factor to 2022 deaths was identified as “perinatal risks, or conditions related to the health and well-being of the mother.”

Other factors include: lack of early prenatal care, stress, obesity and smoking. As with maternal mortality — a report the state released earlier in the week — a significant number of women reported not accessing prenatal care during their pregnancies. 

Geographic rates varied from a high of 8.0 deaths per 1,000 live births in the counties surrounding South Bend to 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in the southeastern portion of the state, near Greensburg. 

IDOH’s release said it hoped the decision to release preliminary 20223 data would “help communities and organizations make timely and well-informed public health decisions” but doesn’t include the in-depth analysis, which will be available in coming months. 

Programs designed to help mothers and children include the Indiana Pregnancy Promise Program, the Nurse Family Partnership as well as the Maternal Infant & Childhood Home Visiting

Certain mobile integrated health programs have also established themselves as localized resources for mothers to combat infant and maternal mortality.

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