Infant Mortality


  • Indiana ranked as the eighth worst state for infant mortality in 1996 with a rate of 8.7 deaths per 1,000.
  • Among Hoosier women delivering infants in 1996,
    -21 % admitted they smoked during their pregnancies.
    -78.1 % started prenatal care in their first trimester.
    -43.4% breastfed their infants at the time of hospital discharge.
  • The national infant mortality rate in 1997 was 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births (provisional).
  • The infant mortality rate in Indiana for 1997 was 8.1 per 1,000 live births.
  • The infant mortality rate for black infants is more than twice the rate for whites. Similar disparities exist in the incidence of prematurity and low birthweight.

What Are the Risk Factors?

An extensive review of more than 500 cases of fetal and infant deaths was conducted in Allen, Elkhart, St. Joseph, Lake, and Marion counties from 1993 to 1997. Results are as follows:

  • Preterm labor was a contributing factor in more than 50% of infant deaths
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke was evident in 40% of all infant deaths
  • Late entry into prenatal care was seen in 25% of all infant deaths
  • Decreased fetal movement was associated with more than 20% of the deaths
  • A mother's weight gain of less than 25 pounds was noted in more than 50% of infant deaths.
  • "Back to Sleep" guidelines were not followed in a significant number of deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Action Steps for Having a Healthy Baby

  1. Know the signs of preterm labor, and what to do about it. Contact a health care provider immediately if these symptoms occur
    • Contractions every 10 minutes, or more than five contractions in one hour
    • Backache that does not go away after resting on your side
    • Changes in vaginal discharge
    • Pelvic pressure that feels like the baby is pushing down inside
    • Menstrual-like cramps
    • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  2. Don't smoke while pregnant and keep yourself and your baby in smoke-free places.
  3. Start prenatal care in the first three months of pregnancy.
  4. Pay attention to fetal movements and call the healthcare provider if the baby's movements seem to slow down.
  5. Eat well and gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.
  6. Reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by placing the baby on its back to sleep on a firm mattress and in a crib with no pillows, comforters or toys. Consider using a sleeper as an alternative to a blanket.
  7. Take 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Folic acid supplements were found to be effective in reducing the incidence of life-threatening neural tube defects by 50-70%.
  8. Get tested for AIDS/HIV.
  9. Get screened for bacterial vaginosis. If positive, get treated to decrease preterm and low birth-weight infants.

Healthy People 2000 Target

  • No more than 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • 90% of pregnant women will receive prenatal care in the first trimester.
  • 95% of all infants will weigh more than 2,500 grams at birth.

For More Information

March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Indiana Chapter 1-800-844-9255
St. Joseph/Elkhart Perinatal Electronic Information System 219-232-8201 ext. 222
IPOM- Indiana Perinatal Online Magazine
SIDS Center of Indiana 317-254-9255
Indiana Minority Health Coalition 317-926-4011