IN Brief

Indiana infant mortality rate ticks up in 2021, primarily for Hispanic babies

By: - December 8, 2022 3:47 pm

Indiana's infant mortality rate creeps up in 2021 (Photo from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Indiana’s infant mortality rate ticked up slightly last year, primarily due to increases among Hispanic babies, according to new data from the Indiana Department of Health.

“Every loss of an Indiana baby is heartbreaking, and seeing our rate go up in our Hispanic population is especially troubling after several years of decline,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, who announced the numbers at an annual infant mortality summit Thursday.

In 2021, 6.7 infants died per 1,000 live births, up slightly from 6.6 in 2020. While mortality among white infants decreased slightly, it increased for Hispanic infants. And the already-high rate for Black infants remained unchanged.

“It will be important to dive more deeply into the data so that we better understand the root causes and can take additional steps to reduce the perinatal risks that contribute to so many of Indiana’s infant deaths,” Box said in a news release, though she said the pandemic could be a factor.

Health department spokeswoman Jennifer O’Malley said the new data is still under review.

The most recent report on infant mortality available online is eight years old.

The health department also noted recent work on infant and maternal mortality in its news release, including:

  • My Healthy Baby, an obstetrician navigator program. It launched in 22 counties in 2020 and is scheduled to include all 92 counties by mid-2023.
  • Levels of Care, a birthing facility certification program.
  • Safety bundles, or evaluation and action step programs from the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health. Indiana joined the alliance in 2019 and has launched bundles on obstetrical hemorrhage and hypertension in pregnancy.
  • $36 million in health department grants to programs aimed at reducing infant mortality, like funding nurse care in counties without obstetrical services.

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Leslie Bonilla Muñiz
Leslie Bonilla Muñiz

Leslie joins the Indiana Capital Chronicle after covering city government and urban affairs for the Indianapolis Business Journal for more than a year. She graduated from Northwestern University in March 2021, and has reported for the Chicago Tribune, Voice of America and student publications in Evanston, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and Doha, Qatar.