Infant mortality refers to the death of an infant before their first birthday. In 1997 the infant mortality rate was 7.1 to 1,000 live births. The ethnic groups that rank high are African-American families, Native Americans, and Hispanic families. The African American family is more than double the White family. Low birthweight babies continue to be the leading cause of infant mortality. One barrier that stands between pregnant women and the care they need is the financial burden of seeking early prenatal care. Women of these ethnic groups are often feeling the stress of poverty. There are studies showing the correlation between stress and poor birth outcomes (“Infant mortality,” 2000) .
In 2007, the IOM reported the cost associated with premature births was $26.2 billion each year. This breaks down to medical and healthcare cost for the infant, labor and delivery cost for the mother, developmental delays from birth to 3 yrs for the child, special education, and lost work for the parent. The low birthweight child struggles in school often accompanied with behavioral problems. An interesting note, even the late preterm delivery between 36 to 38 weeks can struggle in school. In the last few weeks of gestation, the brain is still growing. A baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39-40 weeks (“The impact of premature birth,” 2016) .
In Arizona, 2014, 524 babies died before their first birthday. ADHS is working to target the causes and improve infant mortality throughout the state. Az came up with four areas of concern, health of women and girls, safe families, healthy pregnancy, and health disparities. Networking with other states has shown to be a positive step (Arizona Department of Health Services, n.d.) . the ADHS website is an excellent resource for parents. There is also a website that offers help for NICU families find support groups that address the special needs of low birthweight infants. PreemieCare: Helping families and NICU support groups not only grow but blossom! http://www.preemiecare.org/supportgroups.htm by clicking on AZ link, it took me to local names with phone numbers and plenty of valuable resouces.
A personal sidenote, I work in L&D and we were told that a NICU admission for a low blood glucose with one of our babies is an admission cost of $15,000. This is just for a low blood sugar, I can only guess at how much a full hospital stay is for a 26 weeker that will be in the hospital for weeks if not months.
Arizona Department of Health Services. (n.d.). http://azdhs.gov/topics/index.php#baby-home
Infant mortality, low birthweight and racial disparity. (2000). Retrieved from http://www.nationalhealthystart.org/site/assets/docs/Infant%20Mortality%20Low%20Birthweight.pdf
The impact of premature birth on society. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/the-economic-and-societal-costs.aspx