Infant death rate dropping, but still too high in Michigan - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Infant death rate dropping, but still too high in Michigan

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(08/01/12) - Hurley is considered by the Michigan Department of Community Health to be an example of a hospital that is "getting it right". It is also one of only two Michigan hospitals involved with the March of Dimes Quality Improvement 39+ Weeks project. The initiative is aimed at eliminating induced deliveries before 39 weeks, for any reason other than medical emergency. Unnecessary or "convenience" early births are an area believed to be contributing to the high infant death rate.

Access to prenatal care is another key area, believed to be linked to the soaring teen and single parent birth rates. It is a problem and one that experts agree calls for both clinical and community involvement.

"The whole concept of community involvement means that you take a stake in this. You take ownership of your community, of your future, of your family. It's your baby, it's your life," says Dr. Larry Young, the Director of Hurley Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Young says the teen and single mom issue is one that reaches beyond the first year of life, and well into the future of the entire community.

"You see this cycle repeating itself from generation to generation. And we know that single parent homes, especially for young men, in minority men in regards to education and violence and incarceration, that they tend not to be there for their sons."

The new plan also calls for more extensive prenatal and post birth outreach, especially in high risk communities, to ensure families have the tools to raise healthy babies.

Another area that needs to be addressed, according to Olga Dazzo the director of Michigan's Department of Community Health: SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. "We truly need to educate all generations - how important it is for babies to sleep aline, in un-crowded cribs."

While it is true, we are seemingly bombarded with messages about preventing SIDS - the message itself may be muddy to some of the people who most need to hear it.

"When we speak about SIDS, it might not resonate with individuals. But we need to really hit and use really plain language- 'we need to prevent suffocation'. I think that people will get it," Dazzo adds.

Another key area is unintended pregnancy. That issue also comes with some controversy in light a new phase of health reform, taking effect Wednesday, that makes access to birth control mandatory.

The new, statewide plan to reduce infant mortality is in response to a summit hosted by Gov. Rick Snyder, last October.

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