Traditionally, September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby before their first birthday, while the infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. Indiana has one of the highest infant mortality rates, ranking 47th among all states. For this reason, Governor Holcomb set the goal to be the “best in the Midwest” for this measure by 2024.As a neonatologist at Riley Hospital, I take care of some of the tiniest and sickest newborns in our state, and I’ve dedicated my career to making sure these little ones live to see their first birthdays. But, I recognize that more than excellent medical care is necessary to get us to the goal of improving infant health. That’s why I am proud to serve as chair of the Community Advisory Board of Nurse-Family Partnership implemented by Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana.
Nurse-Family Partnership® (NFP) pairs a first-time mother with a registered nurse early in pregnancy. She and her family receive frequent visits from her NFP Nurse until her child turns two. The care these mothers receive includes physical assessment, education, health screening, care coordination with healthcare providers, and most importantly, a relationship with a caring professional that leads to improved outcomes for mother, baby and family. Such outcomes include higher breastfeeding and immunization rates when compared to state averages. NFP has been implemented in Indiana since 2011, beginning in Marion County and is now available in 38 counties throughout Indiana.
Fortunately, as a result of investment in programs like NFP by the state, led by Gov. Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health, infant mortality rates decreased from 7.3 per 1,000 live births in 2017, to 6.8 per 1,000 live births in 2018. But, there is still much work to be done for Indiana to be the best in the Midwest.
Please take the opportunity this month to consider ways you can help support the health of mothers and babies. Some ideas include:
- Offer support to a neighbor, friend or family member who is pregnant. Offer to give her a ride to her appointment or watch other children so she can rest & take care of herself.
- Offer support and encouragement to a woman who is trying to quit smoking.
- Remind all caregivers about the ABC’s of safe sleep- Alone, on the Back, in a Crib without pillows or blankets. If the family needs help purchasing a crib there are resources available at cribsforkids.org.
- Watch for the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety in new mothers you know. Let her know there is help and assist her in finding it.
Visit goodwillindy.org/health to learn more about Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana's implementation of Nurse-Family Partnership.