For Immediate Release
February 3, 2010

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

Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality announces interim recommendations

The Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality announced interim recommendations for addressing Kansas’ high infant mortality rate today, a rate which is exceeding the rates of most other states.

 “The Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality has issued several recommendations with one of the most important ones being to expand surveillance and research,” said Dennis Cooley, MD, Chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel and President of the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “In order to improve Kansas’ infant mortality rate, the first step is to have a better understanding of what factors are contributing to this rate.”

One of the initiatives being led by the Blue Ribbon Panel is to request legislative authority for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to use vital records data for surveillance.

“By collecting the data needed on infant deaths, Kansas will have an opportunity to apply for federal money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Dr. Cooley said.

Additional recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Panel include increased public awareness and education; increased access to care and services; and implementation of programs and interventions.

The Blue Ribbon Panel, which is comprised of 22 members knowledgeable in maternal, infant and child health, was formed in June 2009 to review the infant mortality problem in Kansas and deliver recommendations to the Secretary of the KDHE through the Governor’s Child Health Advisory Committee.

“Infant mortality in Kansas is a great concern for us,” Roderick Bremby, KDHE Secretary, said. “In recent years, the Kansas infant mortality rate has stagnated while the U.S. rate continued to decline. The Blue Ribbon Panel’s initial recommendations are a great beginning to addressing this concern.”

In 2007, Kansas’ rate of 7.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births was 20 percent higher than the national rate of 6.6 per 1,000 live births. Black infants represent 7 percent of births and 17 percent deaths – this is more than double that of the rate among white infants.

As a result of this growing concern, the Blue Ribbon Panel has been reviewing analyses of both Kansas and national data trends, commissioned a best practices literature review and discussed the viability and potential impact of possible solutions for Kansas. The Blue Ribbon Panel will continue to meet and research further short and long-term recommendations.

More information on the Blue Ribbon Panel is available at http://www.datacounts.net/chac/.