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Indiana maternal, infant mortality rates stagnant or worse after 10-year focus on improving them

It’s been 10 years since Indiana made reducing maternal and infant mortality a top priority.

But despite a lack of improvement in those rates, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said progress has been made.

The state began its Labor Of Love annual conference in 2012, with the goal to reduce the number of Hoosier babies who die before they turn one. Box said improving infant health starts with ensuring maternal health. And she said it’s never too early to begin to address it, including before a person even gets pregnant.

“Giving them the contraception and the counseling and the advice that they need prior to conceiving is how we are really going to impact for the health of the mom and the health of the baby,” Box said.

Since that first conference 10 years ago, Indiana’s infant mortality rate is the same and its maternal mortality rate considerably worse.

READ MORE: Indiana’s maternal mortality rate went from bad to worse

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Box said the progress, especially recently, is in rolling out programs such as My Healthy Baby. It connects pregnant people covered by Medicaid with family support providers and home visitors.

“Not only to be a support system for them during the pregnancy, but to connect them to the resources that they need to be able to have a healthy pregnancy and for that baby to thrive, even beyond that first year,” Box said.

Box said the My Healthy Baby program should finish rolling out to all 92 counties by May of next year.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.