‘Labor of Love’ summit focuses on lowering Indiana’s high infant mortality rate

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Over the last five years, nearly 3,000 babies in Indiana didn’t see their first birthday, making The Hoosier State’s infant mortality rate higher than the national average.

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health hosted a summit aimed at tackling the issue.

The seventh annual “Labor of Love” summit, hosted at the J.W. Marriott, focused on the factors that contribute to a higher infant mortality rate. Experts in the field also highlighted the positive outcomes that come from connecting expectant mothers with healthcare advocates.

“In 2017, 602 babies died before their first birthdays in Indiana,” State Health Commissioner Kris Box said in a statement. “While that rate is lower than 2016, our work isn’t done.”

Box also said pointed out how communities can help mothers find resources throughout pregnancy and into the first 6-12 months.

“That’s why this year’s Labor of Love Infant Mortality Summit is all about Connecting Communities ― linking pregnant women to services where they live and connecting community-based organizations to each other so they can accomplish more together,” said Box.

Governor Eric Holcomb challenged the state bring the rate down to the lowest in the Midwest by 2024.

The governor kicked off the summit on Wednesday morning.

Other speakers included:

  • Nzinga A. Harrison, MD, chief medical officer and co-founder of Eleanor Health, presented on care for individuals with serious persistent mental illness and addictive diseases.
  • Dipesh Navsaria, MD, MSLIS, MPH, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, discussed the importance of the first 1,000 days of life and the lasting impact of early experiences.
  • Jack Turman, Jr., PhD., a professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, moderated “HERSTORY: Grassroots Maternal and Child Health Action!”
  • Kris Box, MD, FACOG, Indiana state health commissioner, discussed the Indiana State Department of Health’s new OB Navigator program.

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