Infant deaths declining in state, other trends raise concerns - WNEM TV 5

Infant deaths declining in state, other trends raise concerns

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MICHIGAN, (WNEM) -

State officials say while infant deaths are declining in the state of Michigan they’re seeing troubling trends when it comes to the health of infants and their mothers.

Michigan League for Public Policy’s annual report Right Start: Maternal and Child Health reviewed eight categories statewide by race and for a select number of cities and townships in Michigan. The 2017 report compares 2010 (2008-2010 three-year average) to 2015 (2013-2015 three-year average) and highlights infant mortality trends in the state.

Here's a look at the trends statewide, then broken down by Mid-Michigan areas. 

Statewide

While the state in general has seen fewer infant deaths and a decline in teen births, there is a significant gap between the deaths of Caucasian babies and deaths of African-American and Hispanic infants, according to the report.

Data showed the infant death rate increased 15 percent for Hispanic babies statewide, which almost double the infant death rate of whites.

The study also showed African-American babies are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday compared to Caucasian babies.

“It is certainly reassuring that we’re seeing fewer infant deaths statewide and other maternal and infant health factors are improving, but it’s important for us to view the data from all angles and examine these drastic racial disparities,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director with the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The risks facing African-American and Latino babies, especially the high infant death rates, should raise an alarm to policymakers and healthcare providers and draw attention to the need for more holistic policies to support healthy moms and babies.”

The state is also seeing a growing gap by race when it comes to women smoking while pregnant. The rate as stayed the same for Caucasian women, but has increased for African-American and Latina women, according to the report.

Overall, the state has made improvements regarding the overall health of mothers and their babies. Data also showed high school graduation rates are increasing while teen births are decreasing.

Data showed the number of teens giving birth has fallen by almost 37 percent from 2010 to 2015. The rate of teen mothers going on to have more children has also dropped, according to the study.

However, researchers said there is cause for concern in some growing trends.

Overall, the state has seen 6,000 births – or 5.3 percent – to mothers who never received prenatal care, or did receive care but late in their pregnancy.

It’s a 10 percent increase since 2010.

Another worsening trend is the number of mothers smoking during their pregnancy. The study reported close to 1 in 5 babies born are to mothers who smoked during their pregnancy.

Researchers said this is leading to a rising rate of babies born too early, with nearly 14,000 preterm births in 2015.

“We need to examine a complete picture when considering maternal and infant health, and what happens to a mom and her baby in the delivery room is just one piece of that picture. If we’re really going to make a difference in the health of a mom and her baby, it’s necessary to make policy improvements that address dozens of factors, such as the mother’s neighborhood, her relationships, her education and her life experiences,” said Guevara Warren.

Experts said more resources and efforts need to be placed on adequate prenatal care for women of color to help reduce the gap between race and ethnicity.

The report also called for the protection of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Experts said the program guarantees maternity health coverage, expanding Medicaid to about 650,000 women in Michigan with low incomes.

The report also recommended expanding home visiting programs.

“Home visiting programs to support vulnerable women and infants have proven very effective and resulted in improved access to prenatal care, fewer preterm births, and increased well-child visits across the state,” said Amy Zaagman, executive director of the Michigan Council for Maternal & Child Health. “Not only should these programs receive more support from the state level, but federal lawmakers should work to ensure that successful programs like the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program are reauthorized to continue to support mothers and their babies.”

Saginaw

While the infant death rate dropped statewide, the city of Saginaw has seen an 11 percent increase between 2010 and 2015, according to the report.

The study showed just over 16 babies per 1,000 births in Saginaw died before their first birthday. The data also showed the number of mothers who receive no or late prenatal care during their pregnancy more than doubled. 

Here’s a look at the numbers in Saginaw:

Maternal & Child Health Indicators Percent Change in Rate (2010 to 2015)
Births to women under age 20 -41%
Repeat teen births (% of teen births) -7%
Births to mothers who are unmarried 5%
Births to mothers who had no high school diploma/GED -18%
Births to mothers who received late/no prenatal care 51%
Births to mothers who smoked during pregnancy 3%
Low-birthweight babies -4%
Preterm births 14%

*Negative change in rate shows a decline or improvement

Midland

The infant death rate has increased at a dramatic 97 percent in Midland between 2010 and 2015.

According to the report, just over 8 babies per 1,000 births in Midland died before their first birthday. The data shows a significant increase in mothers who receive no or late prenatal care during their pregnancy, as well as an increase in low birth weight and preterm births. 

Here's a look at the numbers in Midland:

Maternal & Child Health Indicators Percent Change in Rate (2010 to 2015)
Births to women under age 20 -22%
Repeat teen births (% of teen births) -24%
Births to mothers who are unmarried -8%
Births to mothers who had no high school diploma/GED -47%
Births to mothers who received late/no prenatal care 63%
Births to mothers who smoked during pregnancy -9%
Low-birthweight babies 11%
Preterm births 34%

*Negative change in rate shows a decline or improvement

Flint

According to the report, 10.5 babies per 1,000 births in Flint died before their first birthday in 2015, a 1 percent increase since 2010. 

Meanwhile, preterm births increase 28 percent in the city with 21 percent of mothers giving birth receiving no or late prenatal care. 

Here's a look at the numbers in Flint: 

Maternal & Child Health Indicators Percent Change in Rate (2010 to 2015)
Births to women under age 20 -32%
Repeat teen births (% of teen births) 6%
Births to mothers who are unmarried 6%
Births to mothers who had no high school diploma/GED -11%
Births to mothers who received late/no prenatal care 21%
Births to mothers who smoked during pregnancy 4%
Low-birthweight babies 0% (No change)
Preterm births 28%

*Negative change in rate shows a decline or improvement

Bay City

While infant death rates increased in Saginaw, Midland and Flint, the report showed the death rate in Bay City dropped 43 percent.

Just over 7 babies per 1,000 births in Bay City died before their first birthday in 2015, according to the study. The rate dropped from 12.4 babies per 1,000 births in 2010. 

The data also showed a significant improvement in the number of teens giving birth, with a 38 percent decrease. 

Here's a look at the numbers in Bay City: 

Maternal & Child Health Indicators Percent Change in Rate (2010 to 2015)
Births to women under age 20 -38%
Repeat teen births (% of teen births) -7%
Births to mothers who are unmarried 9%
Births to mothers who had no high school diploma/GED -21%
Births to mothers who received late/no prenatal care 6%
Births to mothers who smoked during pregnancy 15%
Low-birthweight babies 12%
Preterm births 25%

For more information on the Kids Count Report, click here

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