Statewide—Indiana’s infant mortality rate fell at the highest rate in six years, with the black infant mortality rate declining nearly 16 percent and the rate for Hispanic infants declining nearly 20 percent in 2018.
Data from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) show 559 Indiana babies died before the age of 1 in 2018, down from 602 in 2017. The overall infant mortality rate stood at 6.8 per 1,000 babies in 2018, down from 7.3 in 2017. “Indiana has been investing heavily in improving health outcomes for moms and babies as we work toward Governor Holcomb’s goal of having the lowest infant mortality rate in the Midwest by 2024,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “It’s heartening to see those efforts pay off so that more Hoosier babies can celebrate their first birthdays.”
The 2018 infant mortality rates for non-Hispanic white infants met the Healthy People 2020 goal of 6.0 per 1,000, while the rate for Hispanic infants fell to 6.1. The non-Hispanic black infant mortality rate fell from 15.4 to 13.0.
While encouraged by an across-the-board decrease, Box said the state will continue to work with partners to address persistent racial disparities.
Box said the state’s new OB Navigator program will help those efforts by providing personalized guidance and support to women in the 20 counties at highest risk of infant mortality during their pregnancies and for six to 12 months after their babies are born. The home visiting program, which was part of Governor Holcomb’s agenda in 2019, formally launched in Allen County this week and will expand to 19 other counties in 2020. “Every baby deserves a chance to grow and thrive,” Box said. “The new OB Navigator program that is launching in the areas of the state at highest risk for infant mortality includes specific strategies to help connect at-risk women with community resources to help them have a healthy pregnancy and support them after their baby is born.”