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Maternal, infant mortality concerns on rise in Indiana

Minority maternal mortality in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana is ranked third in the nation for maternal mortality, according to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute’s Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy.

Factor in mothers of color, and that ranking drops even more. Black pregnant women are at least two times more likely to die compared to white pregnant women.

Additionally, Indiana ranks eighth in infant mortality, and Black infants die at rate of 2.6 times that of white infants. Major factors cited including social drivers, and determinants of health.

Health advocates joined together Wednesday for a virtual panel, Addressing Black Maternal and Infant Mortality in Indiana, and discussed efforts to improve outcomes.

Health advocates on the panel said Indiana has a lot to do to improve maternal and infant mortality.

  • “Holds high risk, regardless of education, regardless of income, regardless of geography. Just being Black and pregnant holds risks,” said Keisha Zackery with CareSource, a nonprofit that provides public health care programs via Medicaid, Medicare and Marketplace.
  • “Eighty-four percent of pregnancy-related deaths are actually preventable. So, it’s on us to do something about it. When we look at it, almost 50% of women are saying that their birthing experiences are traumatic or trauma-inducing,” said Darryl Lockett, a health equity director with health insurance business Anthem.
  • “It can include things like economic stability, joblessness, low pay, education access is another one, lack of education lack of literacy,” said Laurie Weinzapfel, Medicaid growth leader with insurance provider United Healthcare.

Some help has aided new moms and their babies.

  • The app Count the Kicks has helped save some babies in Indiana.
  • Access to doulas has remained on the rise. Shara Wesley, vice president of Managed Health Services Indiana, told panelists that the role of doulas and even some nontraditional, health care partners have proven to be “promising.” MHI Indiana is a privately owned managed health care provider that works with Indiana Medicaid programs.
  • More hospital systems are implementing implicit bias training since patients’ voices are what matters most in raising awareness and guiding services.

Anye Carson is health equity officer with MDwise Inc., a nonprofit health care company. She added, “We have health equity work groups where we really try to get people with lived experiences to kind of tell us what we’re doing, how we’re doing, and how we can get better.”

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