Monday, 2 May 2011

SIDS: Kansas: Causes of high infant mortality

April. 22, 2011
Surely a “culture-of-life state,” as Gov. Sam Brownback called Kansas last week, should not be content with a disproportionately high rate of infant deaths. Yet Kansas sees 7.9 such deaths for every 1,000 live births, or about 300 a year, and the state’s rate among African-Americans is the worst in the nation.With more awareness, study and focus on access to prenatal and postnatal health care, Kansas can and will do better. Sedgwick County needs to sharply improve, too, because from 2005 through 2009 it led the state with an 8.2 rate and saw an alarming 21.9 percent of the state’s infant deaths, or a total 332.
The problem has crept up on Kansas over the past decade, as the state has failed to share in improvements in infant-mortality rates nationally. The rate among African-Americans in Kansas increased by 32 percent from 2000 to 2009, to about 19 deaths for every 1,000 live births.
The reasons for Kansas’ numbers are as complex as the causes of infant mortality, which include birth defects, preterm and low-weight babies, sudden infant death syndrome and maternal complications of pregnancy.
To its credit, the state set up the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality in 2009. The panel has been looking at risk factors, plotting strategies, building local partnerships and stepping up awareness. This week it hosted events in Wichita and Topeka featuring Tonya Lewis Lee, who is director Spike Lee’s wife and the leader of a national infant-mortality awareness campaign. She will appear twice today in Kansas City, Kan.
The panel’s efforts to gather data were set back when the state was turned down for a $153,000 federal grant in January. But Christy Schunn, executive director of the SIDS Network of Kansas, is collecting crucial information about infant deaths in the Wichita area. Her group’s next Step Up for SIDS 5K Run and Memory Walk will be held May 7 (register at the website or call 316-682-1301).
The countermeasures start with education — about everything from prenatal vitamins to safe newborn sleep positions to optimal birth spacing. Most important, women need to get good prenatal care early in their pregnancy and other kinds of support.
Brownback’s spokeswoman told the Kansas Health Institute News Service that the administration would partner with the panel’s “experts in order to decrease public health risks.” That’s good to hear. Though his “road map for Kansas” didn’t include reducing the state’s infant-mortality rate, Brownback needs to make this cause his own.

No comments:

Post a Comment