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Health Commission issues infant mortality recommendations

The Women’s, Infant’s and Children’s Health Committee of the Kansas City Health Commission has issued recommendations to decrease infant mortality rates in response to the recently completed, “Dying So Young: Infant Mortality in Kansas City, Mo.” report.

Infant mortality refers to children who are born alive but die before their first birthday. The report revealed that while the overall infant mortality rate has decreased in non-Hispanic black infants continue to die at more than twice the rate of white and Hispanic infants in the City of Kansas City, Mo. Premature, low-birth-weight infants born to teenage mothers are at the highest risk of death, due to little or no prenatal care. Mothers who smoke or use illicit drugs during pregnancy also increase the risk of infant death.

“We will not see a significant drop in the black infant mortality rate until many more young, black women can access and experience a quality of care within our system that is based on their needs: before, during and after pregnancy,” said Betty Cook, community co-chairwoman of the Women’s, Infant’s and Children’s Health Committee. “The committee hopes the recommendations will promote innovation from those serving women and children.”

The committee’s recommendations include:

· Ensure early entry into prenatal and preconceptional (before first pregnancy and between pregnancies) services, with hours and locations provided based on consumer needs. This includes culturally appropriate services, more time with care providers and shorter wait times.

· Increase business and community awareness of the ZIP code areas with the highest risk – 64110, 64127, 64128, 64130 and 64132. Currently, the 64132 zip code has the highest infant mortality rate in the city.

· Promote knowledge of risk factors, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (the leading cause of death for infants older than one month), tobacco use or exposure, alcohol abuse, abuse of illicit or prescription drugs and chronic depression.

· Promote nutritional counseling and early entry into the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Nutrition Service for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) for all women of child-bearing age, especially during prenatal visits.

The full report and recommendations are available at the Health Department’s Web site,

Media inquiries about this topic should be directed to Jeff Hershberger, Health Department, (816) 840-2548 (pager).

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