STATEHOUSE (May 9, 2019) – Hoosier mothers will soon have access to better care before, during and after birth thanks to a new law authored by State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove).
According to Kirchhofer, more than 600 Hoosier babies do not live to see their first birthday each year. To lower Indiana’s infant mortality rate, she worked with Gov. Eric Holcomb to ensure more expectant mothers have access to critical care and support during every step of their pregnancy.
“With more than a third of Indiana counties lacking a hospital, or one with pregnancy and child birthing services, many pregnant women do not have access to important services like regular check-ups and routine tests,” said Kirchhofer, chair of the House Public Health Committee.
The new law establishes a perinatal navigator pilot program to connect expectant mothers throughout the state to prenatal care, and provide referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in the 13 highest-risk counties, including Marion. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, more than 100 Marion County babies died before their first birthday in 2017.
“One of the biggest struggles we face in lowering our infant mortality rate is substance abuse,” Kirchhofer said. “Babies are more likely to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome or die from SIDS if their mothers consume alcohol or drugs during their pregnancy. The sooner those in need receive treatment, the higher chance both mom and baby remain healthy.”
Under the new law, medical providers will check for signs of substance abuse in pregnant women through a consultation, and refer them to treatment programs as early as possible. Kirchhofer said women are often more motivated to seek addiction help when they become pregnant.
In 2015, Kirchhofer co-authored a law establishing Safety PIN (protecting Indiana’s newborns). This competitive grant is available to health departments and other health-care related entities or nonprofit organizations working to develop and implement services focused on addressing infant mortality within the state. She said her new law builds off these efforts to help reach more at-risk, expectant mothers.
House Enrolled Act 1007 goes into effect July 1. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.
State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) represents House District 89,
which includes portions of Marion County.
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