In an effort to lower Indiana’s high maternal and infant mortality rate, new resources for prenatal care are available across the state, legislators said.
According to a release from State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie), a new helpline, the Maternal and Child Health MOMS Helpline, will connect pregnant women to prenatal care, as well as child health services, in their areas and across the state.
Indiana has the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation. In 2017, according to the Indiana State Department of Health, more than 600 Indiana babies died before their first birthday. The state also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. The state health department reported Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is 41.1 deaths per every 100,000 live births for white women and 53.4 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births for African American women.
“No mother should have to go through losing their baby,” Pressel said. “To help more at-risk expectant mothers experience memories and milestones with their babies as they grow up, both mom and baby need regular medical care throughout the pregnancy and beyond.”
Pressel said the helpline was one of several tools the state is providing to expectant and new mothers. The perinatal navigator pilot program, established by a 2019 law, gets pregnant women into prenatal care and provides referrals for health care services and home visit programs in the state’s highest-risk counties.
The program also aims to decrease the number of babies born addicted to drugs by putting expectant moms in touch with treatment programs.
“The mom and baby’s health is the most important thing during the pregnancy and throughout the delivery,” Pressel said. “Using illicit drugs can do a lot of harm to the unborn and could cause birth defects or death. We hope to see less of these tragedies by connecting expectant mothers to substance abuse treatment.”