More Black infant deaths push up Indiana newborn death rate
INDIANAPOLIS -- An increased infant mortality rate among Black newborn children contributed to what Indiana health officials found was a slightly higher overall infant mortality rate in the state during 2020.
The state health department reported this month that after Indiana recorded its lowest infant death rate during 2019, those deaths increased from 6.5 per 1,000 live births to 6.6 last year. The 2020 death rate is the second lowest that Indiana officials have recorded.
Indiana's mortality rate among white and Hispanic newborns improved last year, but deaths among Black infants jumped from 11.0 deaths per 1,000 live births during 2019 to 13.2 deaths in 2020, The Indianapolis Star reported.
In recent years, Indiana has taken several steps to improve its infant mortality rate, among the highest in the nation. In 2019 Indiana had the 14th highest infant mortality rate, with 525 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said efforts to reduce Indiana's infant deaths would focus on eliminating disparities between Black and white infants. Early prenatal care and encouraging parents to put their children to sleep alone in their cribs would also help decrease the number of children in this state who die before their first birthday, Box said.