Purchase photos

Moser discusses infant mortality rate

8/20/2014

While progress has been made in Kansas regarding the infant mortality rate, more still needs to be done, said Dr. Robert Moser, Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, while visiting Hays on Thursday.

While progress has been made in Kansas regarding the infant mortality rate, more still needs to be done, said Dr. Robert Moser, Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, while visiting Hays on Thursday.

The number of infant deaths has been declining during the past five years, but there continues to be a racial disparity. Health officials are trying to determine why the infant mortality rate is significantly higher for blacks and Hispanics, he said.

"KanCare covers about 40 percent of the deliveries in Kansas," Moser said of the state's Medicaid program. "So we think that gives us an opportunity to look at areas where we can improve in a multi-factor approach and really start improving pregnancy outcome and decrease our infant mortality."

The two big drivers for infant mortality are Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and congenital abnormalities.

The state has a panel of health care professionals who have been researching the issue and striving to offer public education. Important factors include access to quality prenatal care, reducing elective labor inductions before the due date, and mothers taking vitamins and folic acid during pregnancy.

Five counties with the highest mortality rates have been provided with a special education curriculum from the March of Dimes. Education about safe sleep practices also is available to help reduce the risk of SIDS, Moser said.

* KALEY CONNER, HDN