For Immediate Release
September 22, 2010

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

KDHE Promotes September Infant Mortality Awareness Month

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is encouraging people to recognize September as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. September kicks off a three-month campaign which includes October as SIDS Awareness Month and November as Prematurity Awareness Month. 
 
KDHE wants to ensure that every woman has a healthy pregnancy, learns about safe sleep for her baby, gets early prenatal care and support services, and makes choices that promote healthy lifestyles for a lifetime. 

“While the national infant mortality rate continues to decline, the Kansas rate is nearly 20 percent higher,” said Roderick Bremby, KDHE Secretary. “While many states have made progress in closing the gap between white and black infant mortality, Kansas has not.  Kansas ranks highest in the nation for black infant mortality.” 
 
The leading causes of infant deaths in Kansas are congenital anomalies, pre-term birth/low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and maternal complications of pregnancy.  Across all races and ethnicities, infant deaths occur most often for young mothers under the age of 20, who are single parents, and who have less than a high school level of education.

“Infant mortality is a complex issue associated with a variety of factors such as income, housing, education, employment, social support, cultural barriers and access and quality of prenatal care,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, state health officer and director of health for KDHE.

The Kansas 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 Kansas Department of Health and Environment through the Governor’s Child Health Advisory Committee. One of the aspects the group is focusing on, in addition to studying the subject more, is public awareness. 

For more information about infant mortality as well as how you may contribute to its reduction, please visit the following resources: