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Indiana’s infant mortality rate at its lowest in 6 years

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana saw the biggest decrease in its infant mortality rate in six years, officials said.

In 2018, 7.3 out of every 1,000 babies born in Indiana died in their first year of life, one of the highest rates in the nation. Last year, the rate dipped to 6.8 per 1,000, reported The Indianapolis Star.

In all, 559 infants died in 2018 compared to 602 the previous year.

“Quite honestly this is a culmination of a number of years of very intensive efforts from multiple state agencies and Gov. Eric Holcomb,” said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana state health commissioner. “I celebrate those babies that were saved, but we still have a long way to go.”

One of the initiatives the state took to combat its infant mortality rate was an OB navigator program that provides personal, at-home support for women living in the 20 counties with the highest infant mortality rate. The program follows mother and baby for six months to a year after birth.

Box hopes tackling infant mortality will have a positive impact on maternal health as well.

Currently, the state’s maternal mortality rate of 50 deaths per 100,000 live births is also among the highest in the nation, ranking at 48, according to America’s Health Rankings.

Box wants to address both infant and maternal mortality with a pregnancy accommodations bill in the Indiana General Assembly. The bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations of their workers who are pregnant so that they may keep working if possible.