Bacon: Improving perinatal care to save the lives of mothers, babies

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Friday, February 22, 2019 2:36 pm

Indiana has the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the United States. To help ensure a healthy pregnancy and life for Hoosier women and babies, I co-authored legislation that would help improve access to health care before, during and after pregnancies.

This legislation would build on statewide efforts to reduce infant mortality by providing stronger initial care for pregnant mothers and expanding programs that help those in need. Under this proposal, medical providers would check pregnant women for signs of substance abuse through a verbal consultation. Mothers could express their health conditions and concerns, and doctors could refer them to treatment programs.

When pregnant mothers use drugs or alcohol, there is often a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS. Connecting women in need with these resources early in pregnancy would help save the lives of mothers and babies. This effort to help women with substance abuse disorders find treatment and recover goes hand-in-hand with Indiana’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

The proposal would also establish a perinatal navigator pilot program in the state’s 13 highest-risk counties. This would help expectant mothers receive prenatal care sooner and obtain referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs. Expecting mothers would also be connected with an OB navigator from a community-based health care provider. This individual can offer guidance, medical assistance, and encouragement throughout pregnancies.

The pilot would be based off of Vanderburgh County’s Pre to 3 program, which is one of the most successful Safety PIN (protecting Indiana’s newborns) grant programs in the state. Pre to 3 was designed to provide consistent care for families from pregnancy until the baby reaches age three.

Although Indiana’s infant mortality rate remains high, this proposal will continue building on our statewide efforts to save the lives of expecting mothers and their babies. Contact me with any input or questions as this legislation moves through the process at h75@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9643, and visit iga.in.gov to learn more.

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State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75, 
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.