State grants to help expectant mothers and lower infant mortality rates

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2015) – A new piece of legislation just signed into law by Governor Mike Pence will help counties create programs for moms and families and decrease infant mortality rates in Indiana.

In the last century, more than seven percent of infants in Indiana didn’t make it past their first birthday. The “Safety Pin” (protecting Indiana’s newborns) program will provide $11 million in grants to counties and cities to establish plans for moms and their families.

One plan is to provide more moms with prenatal care. St. Vincent Health nurse practitioner, Beth McIntire says only one third of pregnant women in Indiana get care during their first trimester. She says that time is crucial to a baby’s health.

Other major problems impacting Indiana newborns is having parents that are overweight, smoke cigarettes, or use illegal substances.

The funding will help provide education for expecting moms, but health professionals believe there’s a lot more that needs to be done.

“You also have to get women to change their behavior. I think that’s what is great about this bill. We’ve tried an educational approach. We’ve had great public service announcements. I think if you ask people they will pretty much agree this is not good, but we have to get one step further,” said McIntire.

Programs will be designed based on counties individual needs, but they’ll have to prove the programs will actually work.

“They’re gonna have to show that their interventions actually have made a difference in lowering infant mortality,” McIntire said.

A chunk of the funding grants will go towards creating a smartphone app for moms and families to easily access valuable tools and information right at their fingertips.

“A lot of people do have access through a smart phone and I think that will be another way we can engage these families. They can search for information, get quick little snippets of information,” McIntire said.

In 2020, the goal for “Healthy People for Indiana” is a six percent mortality rate.

The hope is for the grants to show a major impact within the next five years.

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