For Immediate Release
Barbara Hersh, 785-368-8053
Topeka – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is encouraging Kansans to recognize September as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. September kicks off a three-month awareness campaign, which includes October as SIDS Awareness Month and November as Prematurity Awareness Month.
KDHE encourages activities that promote healthy pregnancies and parenting. It’s important for women to learn about safe sleep for babies, get early prenatal care and support services and make choices that promote healthy lifestyles for a lifetime.
“Infant mortality is an important public health issue in the state of Kansas,” said Robert Moser, MD, KDHE Secretary. “While awareness and education are essential in preventing infant mortality, health care professionals and community partners are more closely studying the causes and looking at ways to reduce the rates in Kansas for all populations".
While the national infant mortality rate continues to decline, the Kansas rate is nearly 20 percent higher than the national average. Additionally, there is a significant health disparity between black and white infant mortality rates.
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 Aiko Allen, MS, KDHE Director, Center for Health Equity.
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 awareness.
For more information about infant mortality go to http://datacounts.net/infant_mortality/campaigns.asp.