Lakeshore News Tonight

Northshore Program Addresses Infant Mortality Concern

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December 27, 2013 by Hilary Powell

Indiana has a dismal statistic:  studies show babies born in Indiana have a greater chance of dying before their first birthdays than in almost any other state.  At 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, Indiana’s infant mortality rate is the third highest rate in the nation according to the Indiana House of Representatives Democratic Caucus.

Tiffany Finch says the prenatal care program at Northshore Health Centers in Lake Station helped her son, Amari, survive her first delivery, a premature birth.  The program connects a prenatal care coordinator with at-risk moms to reduce Indiana’s rate of infant mortality.

Finch says, “She came to my house.  Anything I needed I could call her and email her and she was always helpful.  I didn’t feel like coming outside because I was sick most of my pregnancy, so it helped that she was able to come to my house.”

That support is what might have helped Amari reach his birth date.  Last month the March of Dimes said Indiana lowered its preterm birth rate, and it attributes that progress in part to community support groups.

Northshore recently held a holiday party for more than 50 families with infants.  Outreach Manager Gervay Dickerson says the organization’s familycare program helps with any family needs after the baby arrives, “We have a coordinator who will go into the household and really just help them with any resources they need.  It may be food, it may be clothing, it may be shelter. People are a little bit more comfortable at home than they would be in a doctor’s office.  So, you get them in that environment, you see what they need, and it makes the family healthy, the baby healthy.”

Indiana State Department of Health says reducing infant mortality rate is the agency’s top priority.  The department says the top three reasons Indiana infants die are:  disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, congenital anomalies, and sudden infant death syndrome.

Dickerson says information needs to convey about a postpartum issue particular to Northwest Indiana,  “We are seeing an increase in SIDS incidences in this area, and so there are a couple of us in the maternity healthcare coalition.  With the maternity healthcare coalition, we’re just trying to teach safe sleep practices.  That’s another thing having a coordinator does.  She’s able to go into the household and see that the baby is sleeping safely on their back.”

Finch says she is grateful for support in one of the most pivotal times in her life.  The non-profit organization will provide support until her newest family member turns one year old.

The Indiana State Department of Health says officials hope to cut the state’s infant mortality rate from 7.7 to 7.4 deaths per 1,000 infants for 2014.

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