STATEHOUSE (April 10, 2019) – After Tuesday’s unanimous approval by the Indiana Senate, State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer’s (R-Beech Grove) legislation aiming to lower Indiana’s infant mortality rate could soon be signed into law.
“With the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation, Indiana must do more to protect our expectant mothers and newborns,” said Kirchhofer, chair of the House Public Health Committee. “There are multiple factors that can mitigate this staggering statistic, including better access to substance abuse treatment and early prenatal care. If we provide these critical services sooner, there is a higher chance of keeping both mom and baby healthy before, during and after birth.”
Under legislation Kirchhofer worked on with Gov. Eric Holcomb, medical providers would 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. Consuming alcohol or drugs during pregnancy can lead to babies being born with fetal alcohol syndrome or dying from SIDS.
According to Kirchhofer, more than a third of Indiana counties do not have a hospital, or the local hospital does not offer pregnancy and child birthing services. This legislation would also establish a perinatal navigator pilot program, which would provide referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in the 13 highest-risk counties, including Marion.
“We have identified the most in-need communities that can benefit greatly from this pilot program,” Kirchhofer said. “Paired with our previous legislative efforts, I hope we can start making significant progress to lower Indiana’s infant mortality rate.”
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 this year’s legislation builds off these efforts to help reach more at-risk, expectant mothers.
House Enrolled Act 1007 is now eligible for action by the governor. 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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