September 28, 1995
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES INFANT MORTALITY RATE DROPS TO RECORD LOW FOR THIRD YEAR IN ROW
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Gov. Jim Edgar today announced that, for the third consecutive year, Illinois' infant mortality rate has dropped to a record low.
The 1994 infant mortality rate was 9.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to statistics compiled by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which represents a 16 percent decline since 1991. Prior to 1994, previous record lows were reported in 1993 (9.6), 1992 (10.0) and 1990 and 1991 (10.7).
"We are making progress, but we must strive to do more. The lives of too many children are over before they reach their first birthday, often because their mothers did not receive the necessary comprehensive prenatal care," the Governor said. "We must remove roadblocks that impede a pregnant woman's access to the critical care she needs to ensure her child is born healthy and safe. One way is through the family case management program, which helps coordinate and deliver a wide-range of health services to needy pregnant women and infants."
Under terms of the family case management approach, a case manager is assigned to Medicaid and medically indigent families with pregnant women and children up to 1 year old to assure they receive regular medical care and related services. The case manager, among other services, helps the family select a doctor, make appointments and arrange for transportation.
A study by the Department of Public Health of more than 14,000 case-managed women found their number of premature deliveries was 30 percent lower than non-case management clients. Case-managed families also were found to have increased levels of immunizations, well baby care and screening for lead poisoning.
"Low birth weight infants are 40 times more likely to die in the first 30 days after birth, and low birth weight survivors suffer chronic physical and learning disabilities two to three times more often than normal weight infants," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "To prevent this nagging problem, we must assure the mother receives early and appropriate prenatal care."
Dr. Lumpkin said medical advances have contributed to the lower infant mortality numbers, but further progress will most likely be gained through increasing access to and receipt of prenatal medical care through programs such as family case management.
Through technological advances, the use of the drug surfactant has reduced infant deaths due to respiratory illness that often is the cause of death for premature infants. Surfactant is a natural substance that the body begins producing at about 28 weeks of gestation that helps the lungs stay inflated and prevents damage from breathing. Artificial surfactant is given to premature infants, who have not yet produced sufficient quantities of their own surfactant.
For the future, Dr. Lumpkin said the state must strive to reduce the gap between mortality rates for white and black babies. The infant mortality rate for African-American babies (17.9) is nearly three times higher than that for white babies (6.7), although both rates declined in 1994. The African-American rate was down from the 18.8 reported in 1993, and the white rate was down from 7.1.
In 1994, the total number of infant deaths was 1,711 (714 in Chicago and 997 downstate), compared with 1,838 deaths in 1993 (806 in Chicago and 1,032 downstate). The total number of births in 1994 was 189,182, down from the 190,709 recorded in 1993.
The infant mortality rate for Chicago dropped from 13.7 in 1993 to 12.5 in 1994.
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