For Immediate Release
July 16, 2009

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

Kansas infant mortality rate declines slightly in 2008

Blue Ribbon Panel created to address state’s infant mortality rate

The infant mortality rate in Kansas dropped in 2008 to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to 7.9 per 1,000 in 2007, according to data released today by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The number of infant deaths statewide was 303 in 2008, 30 fewer than in 2007.

“Infant mortality is seen as a critical measurement of the health of a population,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of Health at KDHE.  “While last year’s rate is an improvement, it remains unsatisfactorily high when compared to rates in many countries around the world.  Further, the rate among some populations in the state continues to be disproportionately higher.”

The 2008 infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic blacks was almost 13.3 per 1,000 live births, more than twice the 6.2 per 1,000 rate seen in non-Hispanic whites. The 2008 infant mortality rate for women of Hispanic origin was 8.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. 

This year’s reporting of infant mortality rates in Kansas comes as the Governor’s Child Health Advisory Committee created a Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality to examine the issue closely and propose evidence-based solutions.  The panel will hold its first in-person meeting on Friday, July 17 in Topeka.  Information on the advisory committee and the panel can be found at: www.datacounts.net/chac/.

“Clearly more needs to be done to reduce infant mortality, and this panel of experts has its work cut out for it to find solutions quickly,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said.  “While overall infant mortality rates have declined in the past 100 years, the trend in rates for recent years has been flat and has even increased for some population groups.”

KDHE’s Division of Health monitors infant mortality and supports programs that promote access to health services for mothers and infants.  The division’s Bureau of Public Health Informatics calculates the infant mortality rate as part of its preparation of the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics.