CARDIN, BURR, MENENDEZ LEAD SENATE IN RECOGNITION OF NATIONAL INFANT MORTALITY AWARENESS MONTH
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Richard Burr (R-NC), along with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), led the Senate in a bipartisan effort this week to increase awareness about infant mortality and access to prenatal care in the United States. In a resolution (S.Res.258) passed unanimously by the Senate, Cardin, Burr and Menendez commemorated September as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. They called upon the Department of Health and Human Services and other entities to spread awareness of the contributing factors of infant mortality and critical prevention efforts that can and should be taken to reduce the number of infant deaths. Each year in the U.S. nearly 500,000 babies are born prematurely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 25,000 infants die before their first birthday.
"Despite being one of the wealthiest nations on earth, too many American babies are dying before their first birthday. National Infant Mortality Awareness Month presents the opportunity to educate Americans about infant mortality and its contributing factors, including low birth weight, and to recommit ourselves to expanding access to prenatal care," said Senator Cardin. "Infant mortality is a particularly acute problem in minority communities and those with high rates of unemployment and poverty. We've made progress in some areas, but we must attack this problem more aggressively."
"Community-based programs, such as outreach, home visitation, case management, and health education may help substantially reduce infant mortality," said Senator Burr. "This resolution is a small way to recognize and support efforts to reduce infant deaths, low birth weight, pre-term births, and disparities in perinatal outcomes through continued education about infant mortality and the contributing factors."
"There is no greater tragedy for any parent than losing a child, and it is a national tragedy that so many babies in this country - especially in minority communities -- are not living to celebrate their first birthdays," said Senator Menendez. "Every child - regardless of where they're born -- deserves a chance for a healthy life and we have to do all we can to increase awareness about the causes of infant mortality and expand access to the prenatal care families need."
According to the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA), which supports over 100 Healthy Start projects across the United States, while infant mortality in the U.S. has been reduced recently, the disparities between whites and minorities has not lessened. NHSA reports that "Infant mortality among African American women is more than twice that of white women. Low birthweight among African American women is more than twice that of white women. For Hispanics and Native Americans, the infant mortality and low birthweight rates are significantly higher than that of the white population." They urge special attention to minority families need particularly perinatal health services.
In Maryland, the infant mortality rate in 2012 was 6.3 per 1,000 live births, down six percent from 2011. The mortality rate for African American infants declined by 14 percent, to 10.3 per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate fell by 21 percent between 2008 and 2012, which translates to 159 fewer infant deaths in 2012 than in 2008.
According to the CDC, the infant mortality rate in New Jersey in 2009 was 5.27 per 1000 live births. For Hispanics, it was 5.04 and for African Americans 12.07 per 1000 live births.
The text of the resolution follows:
Expressing support for the goals and ideals of the National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, 2013.
Whereas the term "infant mortality" refers to the death of a baby before the first birthday of the baby;
Whereas the United States ranks 50th among countries in the rate of infant mortality;
Whereas high rates of infant mortality are especially prevalent in African America, Native America, Alaskan Native, Latino, Asian, and Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities, communities with high rates of unemployment and poverty, and communities with limited access to safe housing and medical providers;
Whereas premature birth and low birth weight are leading causes of infant mortality;
Whereas, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics, premature birth costs the United States more than $26,000,000,000 annually;
Whereas infant mortality can be substantially reduced through community-based services, such as outreach, home visitation, care coordination, health education, interconceptional care, and fatherhood involvement;
Whereas support for community-based programs to reduce infant mortality services, such as outreach, home visitation, care coordination, health education, interconceptional care, and fatherhood involvement;
Whereas support for community-based programs to reduce infant mortality may result in lower future spending on medical interventions, special education, and other social services that may be need for infant and children who are born with a low birth weight;
Whereas the Department of Health and Human Services, acting through the Office of Minority Health, has implemented the "A Healthy Baby Begins With You' campaign;
Whereas the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration has provided national leadership on the issue of infant mortality;
Whereas the Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary of health and Human Services with respect to developing a national strategy for reducing infant mortality;
Whereas public awareness and education campaigns on infant mortality are held during the month of September each year; and
Whereas September 2013 has been designated as "National Infant Mortality Awareness Month": Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate -
(1) supports -
(A) the goals and ideals of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, 2013;
(B) efforts to educate people in the United States about infant mortality and the factors that contribute to infant mortality; and
(C) efforts to reduce infant deaths, low birth weight, pre-term births, and disparities in perinatal outcomes;
(2) recognizes the critical importance of including efforts to reduce infant mortality and the factors that contribute to infant mortality as part of prevention and wellness strategies; and
(3) calls on the people of the United States to observe National Infant Mortality Awareness Month with appropriate programs and activities.
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