STATEHOUSE (Aug. 10, 2020) – To help lower Indiana's high maternal and infant mortality rates, State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) 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. Pressel said engaging more at-risk expectant mothers in early prenatal care is key to lowering these numbers.
"No mother should have to go through losing their baby," Pressel said. "To help more at-risk expectant mothers experience memories and milestones with their babies as they grow up, both mom and baby need regular medical care throughout the pregnancy and beyond."
According to Pressel, 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.
Pressel 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 Pressel supported, 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, including LaPorte County's, which launched June 23.
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. Pressel said women are often more motivated to seek addiction help when they become pregnant.
"The mom and baby's health is the most important thing during the pregnancy and throughout the delivery," Pressel said. "Using illicit drugs can do a lot of harm to the unborn and could cause birth defects or death. We hope to see less of these tragedies by connecting expectant mothers to substance abuse treatment."
Visit in.gov/isdh for more resources and information on Indiana's efforts to support Hoosier moms and babies.
State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) represents House District 20,
which includes portions of LaPorte and Starke counties.
Click here for a high-resolution photo.