December 23, 1997
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES ALL-TIME LOW INFANT DEATH RATE
FOR ILLINOIS: RATE DROPPED NEARLY 22 PERCENT SINCE 1990
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. -- Gov. Jim Edgar today announced that Illinois' infant mortality rate dropped to an all-time low in 1996, continuing a downward trend that has seen the rate fall by nearly 22 percent over the past six years.
"Illinois babies have a better chance of living a healthy life today than ever before, but the progress we have made must continue," the Governor said. "There are still too many children who lose their lives before they reach their first birthday, often because they are born too soon or too small or into conditions of extreme poverty.
"We are committed to making further gains through initiatives, such as our family case management program, that educate mothers-to-be about the need for early and comprehensive prenatal care, proper nutrition, healthy behavioral choices and family planning."
The infant mortality rate for 1996 was 8.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, a decline of 21.5 percent since 1990, according to statistics compiled by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Prior to 1996, previous record lows were reported in 1994 (9.0), 1993 (9.6), 1992 (10.0) and 1990 and 1991 (10.7). The infant mortality rate was 9.3 in 1995 before dropping to the all-time low in 1996.
The Illinois family case management program was initiated in 1993 and is administered by the Department of Human Services. Family case managers are assigned to help make sure that mothers and babies in Medicaid and medically indigent families receive regular medical care and related services. The case workers help them find a doctor, to keep appointments and arrange for transportation. The program is expected to serve about 160,000 pregnant women and needy children up to 1 year of age this year.
"While advances in medical technology have contributed greatly to the lower infant mortality rate, further progress will rely more on effective programs such as family case management," said Howard A. Peters III, Secretary of Human Services.
A study by the Department of Public Health showed that case-managed women had 30 percent fewer premature deliveries and low birth weight babies than women whose cases were not managed under the program. Case-managed families also were found to have higher levels of immunizations, well baby care and screening for lead poisoning.
"The single greatest threat to infant health is low birth weight," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, Director of Public Health. "Low birth weight babies are often born into poverty and are 40 times more likely to die in the first 28 days after birth. Those who survive suffer chronic physical and learning disabilities three times more often than normal weight infants."
Among racial groups, both white and black infant mortality rates reached all-time lows. However, despite the reduction in the African-American infant mortality rate to 17.4 in 1996, from 18.2 in 1995, black babies are more than twice as likely to die as whites. The infant mortality rate among whites was 6.3, down from 7.2 in 1995.
Geographically, infant mortality rates reached record lows in Chicago and downstate. Chicago's rate of 10.8 was down from its previous low of 12.5 in 1994 and the downstate rate of 7.4 was down slightly from the prior low of 7.6 in 1994.
In 1996, the total number of infant deaths was 1,536 (570 in Chicago and 966 downstate), compared with 1,724 in 1995 (685 in Chicago and 1,039 downstate). The total number of births in 1996 was 183,079, down from the 185,801 recorded in 1995.
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