By Stephanie Birch, RNC, MPH, MS, FNP
This issue of Pulse focuses on the topic of infant mortality. Infant mortality is the leading worldwide indicator of maternal and infant health status. This indicator is also valuable in assessing the quality and accessibility of primary health care available to pregnant women and infants, and the impact of poor socio-economic conditions on maternal and infant health. The status of infant mortality can be affected by many factors, including the rates of neonatal and post-neonatal death, which have a variety of associated risk factors.
While the United States has made great strides in reducing infant mortality over the last century, our country lags far behind many other developing countries with seven countries having an infant mortality rate that was less than half of the U.S. rate (6.6) in 2008. Disparities continue to exist with some populations, such as Alaska Native/American Indian (8.28 deaths/100 live births) and non-Hispanic black births (13.35 deaths/100 live births), which for the later group is more than double the rate of infants born to non-Hispanic white mothers (Matthews, et al, Pediatrics, 2011).
In this issue, you will have an opportunity to read about programs implemented in a variety of states focused on reducing risk factors that contribute to high rates of infant mortality.