• WBST 92.1 FMMuncie
  • WBSB 89.5 FMAnderson
  • WBSW 90.9 FMMarion
  • WBSH 91.1 FMHagerstown / New Castle
Indiana Public Radio, a listener-supported service of Ball State University
Listen Live Online. Tap to open audio stream.

Indiana maternal, infant mortality rates stagnant or worse after 10-year focus on improving them

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Family Issues, Government, Health
Dr. Kris Box said improving the infant mortality rate begins with improving maternal health. Indiana has some of the worst rates for both measures in the country. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

It’s been 10 years since Indiana made reducing maternal and infant mortality a top priority.

But despite a lack of improvement in those rates, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said progress has been made.

The state began its Labor Of Love annual conference in 2012, with the goal to reduce the number of Hoosier babies who die before they turn one. Box said improving infant health starts with ensuring maternal health. And she said it’s never too early to begin to address it, including before a person even gets pregnant.

“Giving them the contraception and the counseling and the advice that they need prior to conceiving is how we are really going to impact for the health of the mom and the health of the baby,” Box said.

Since that first conference 10 years ago, Indiana’s infant mortality rate is the same and its maternal mortality rate considerably worse.

READ MORE: Indiana’s maternal mortality rate went from bad to worse

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text “Indiana” to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues.

Box said the progress, especially recently, is in rolling out programs such as My Healthy Baby. It connects pregnant people covered by Medicaid with family support providers and home visitors.

“Not only to be a support system for them during the pregnancy, but to connect them to the resources that they need to be able to have a healthy pregnancy and for that baby to thrive, even beyond that first year,” Box said.

Box said the My Healthy Baby program should finish rolling out to all 92 counties by May of next year.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.