STATEHOUSE (July 21, 2020) – To help lower Indiana's high maternal and infant mortality rates, State Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger) said there are new resources available for Hoosier moms and their newborns.
With the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation, more than 600 Hoosier babies died before their first birthday in 2017, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Indiana also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates. DeVon, chair of the House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, said engaging more at-risk expectant mothers in early prenatal care is key to lowering these numbers.
"Babies born in St. Joseph County have a higher risk of dying before their first birthday than other areas of the state," DeVon said "By ensuring care and treatment is available early on in a pregnancy, more mothers and their children have a better chance of living and growing up strong and healthy."
According to DeVon, the recently launched Maternal and Child Health MOMS Helpline connects pregnant women to early and regular prenatal care, along with a network of prenatal and child health care services within their local communities and throughout the state. Women in need can visit in.gov/isdh and click on "MOMS Helpline," or call 1-844-MCH-MOMS (1-844-624-6667) for resources.
DeVon said the MOMS Helpline is just one of several tools Indiana offers to support expectant and new mothers. The perinatal navigator pilot program, established in 2019 through a law DeVon co-authored, connects expectant mothers to prenatal care, and provides referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in Indiana's highest-risk counties. He said more than 10 programs are already operating, with St. Joseph County's already live.
With many Hoosier babies born addicted to drugs, and to help expectant mothers receive referrals to treatment programs early, they can also be screened for substance abuse. DeVon said women are often more motivated to seek addiction help when they become pregnant.
"Absolutely no one wants to see a child born with a drug addiction, which is why substance abuse treatment is critical for expecting mothers in desperate need of assistance," DeVon said. "Connecting them to the appropriate resources can greatly benefit a family's quality of life and help keep them together."
Visit in.gov/isdh for more resources and information on Indiana's efforts to support Hoosier moms and babies.
State Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger) represents House District 5, which includes portions of St. Joseph County.
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