JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – For generations, Mississippi has had the highest infant mortality rate in America.
That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news, that number has dropped by 15 percent in just in just 2 years.
When looking at the overall health of a population, babies are a logical place to start.
Nearly 39,000 Mississippians came into the world in 2014, and a higher percentage of them lived to see their first birthday than ever before.
When it comes to improving our infant mortality rate, Mississippi is not taking baby steps.
According to the State Department of Health some of the biggest gains have been made in preventing sleep related deaths.
Dr. Mary Currier goes over the ABC’S with us, “Have the baby sleep alone, on their back, in a crib in a smoke free environment, and that really decreases your risk of SIDS or other sleep related deaths.”
That’s very important, but premature births continue to be biggest cause of infant deaths.
Early elective births are a bad idea, and now they are not allowed at most Mississippi hospitals.
Dr. Currier explains, “For the safety of the baby, we shouldn’t electively deliver babies early, because it really is bad for the baby.”
Thanks to efforts of organizations like the March of Dimes, we know about the importance of folic acid and prenatal vitamins, but a woman’s health is of upmost importance, even before she becomes pregnant. Timing is also crucial.
Dr. Currier lays it out like this, “Making sure there is at least 18 months between the birth of one child and getting pregnant with the next child so that you can get healthy again before you have that next baby.”
It’s an issue that is too precious to ignore and Mississippi is making real progress, improving the health of Mississippians one baby at time.
Nationally we might still rank at or very near the bottom, those numbers aren’t out yet, but there is certainly no reason why we have to stay there.
Breast feeding, if at all possible, can also play a role in a baby’s health, and it’s never a good idea to smoke while pregnant or around a baby.