Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kansas infant mortality rate up

By The Herald Staff | 8/23/2013

TOPEKA — The number of infant deaths among Kansas parents rose in 2012, according to a new report by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The slight rise was indicated by the 254 infant deaths in 2012; up from 247 in 2011 — an infant mortality rate of 6.3 per 1,000 live births. The 2011 rate (6.2 deaths per 1,000 live births) was the lowest infant mortality rate in Kansas since the first records of 1912, the KDHE said.

TOPEKA — The number of infant deaths among Kansas parents rose in 2012, according to a new report by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The slight rise was indicated by the 254 infant deaths in 2012; up from 247 in 2011 — an infant mortality rate of 6.3 per 1,000 live births. The 2011 rate (6.2 deaths per 1,000 live births) was the lowest infant mortality rate in Kansas since the first records of 1912, the KDHE said.

The leading causes of infant deaths in Kansas are prematurity or low birth weight, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation in bed and maternal complications of pregnancy, according to the agency.

“In past decades, we saw infant mortality counts fluctuating as great as 30 [deaths] in one year, so the increases and decreases reported in recent years aren’t as sharp,” Robert Moser, KDHE secretary and state health officer, said. “However, the last five years, in particular, have shown a decreasing trend. Any increase in infant death is significant and important, and that is why KDHE and many other organizations in Kansas are committed to reducing infant mortality through research and community intervention.”

Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and 1 million babies worldwide die each year due to preterm birth. Babies who survive an early birth often face lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, the KDHE said. The state also is attempting to reduce the premature birth rate in Kansas, which now stands at 11.2 percent, according to the agency.

“While many babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are able to live long, healthy lives, we know that reducing the rate of preterm births will help us reduce the rate of infant mortality as well as help prevent the lifelong health challenges often associated with babies who are born preterm,” Moser said. “With many programs and interventions across the state aimed at reducing the rate of preterm births and eliminating health disparities, one intervention is simply encouraging expecting mothers and their doctors to eliminate elective deliveries before 39 weeks.”

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