Illinois Promotes Infant Mortality Awareness Month
With the United States' ranking an all time low 29th in the world for Infant Mortality, the Illinois Department Of Human Services' (IDHS) Office of Community Health and Prevention joins the rest of the nation in a campaign to increase the awareness of the high rate of infant mortality. Premature birth, low birth-weight and shorter gestation periods account for more than sixty percent (60%) of U.S. infant deaths. In Illinois, the current infant mortality rate is 7.4 percent (mortality rates based on per 1,000 live births).
"IDHS is committed to providing quality and adequate prenatal and primary care to women and infants throughout Illinois," said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams Ph.D. "We offer support services as well as administer programs that foster comprehensive family planning services in a strategic effort to combat the external factors that can contribute to the high death rates ."
The high infant mortality rate, the rate at which babies less than one year of age die, is partially due to the disparities between minorities and non-Hispanic whites. The rates among African-Americans, Hispanics (particularly Puerto Ricans) and Native Americans are significantly higher than those of non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans are four times as likely to die as infants when compared to non-Hispanic white infants.
Some of the contributing factors of the disparities are: poverty, limited access to health care, stress and diet & nutrition. To address these factors, IDHS administers The Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, Title V of the Social Security Act, the only federal program devoted to improving the health of all women, children and families. The agency uses these funds to provide preventive and primary care services to women, infants, children and adolescents throughout the state that work to eliminate the racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality.
"We understands that infant mortality is a growing concern and we have made strides with successful programs and initiative here in Illinois to address the disparities," said Dr. Myrtis Sullivan, Associate Director, Office of Family Health, IDHS.
IDHS Programs such as Healthy Start help pregnant women seek the proper preconception and prenatal care in the first trimester as well as educate communities, providers, pregnant women and family members on factors that affect infant mortality such as smoking, substance abuse, poor nutrition, lack of prenatal care, medical problems, chronic illness, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A collaboration between the WIC and Family Case Management programs has substantially improved pregnancy outcomes among low income women. In addition, the perinatal care program coordinates perinatal care services among regional hospitals so that women and infants receive risk-appropriate care.
To continue to raise awareness statewide, IDHS will host four workshops in October for professionals and providers as well as community members and clients of MCH programs to collect information, opinions, and perspectives from key stakeholders, to improve the needs of maternal and child health in Illinois.