Delivering Change: Healthy Moms – Healthy Babies and the Geary County Perinatal Coalition have announced a decrease in the infant mortality rate for the county for a fifth consecutive year. According to the 2016 Annual Summary of Vital Statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Geary County’s IMR for 2012-2016 has fallen to 5.4 infant deaths per live 1,000 live births, and sets Geary County below state and national averages.
Infant mortality has long been used to measure the health and well-being of a community, nation or state. In 2011 Geary County had one of the state’s worst infant mortality rates, with 10.4 infant deaths per 1,000 births in the period between 2006 and 2010. In response a group of individuals, healthcare professionals, educational and social service agencies created the Perinatal Coalition to address health issues faced by infants and women of child-bearing age. From that coalition came the Delivering Change: healthy Moms-Healthy Babies initiative.
Delivering Change: Healthy Moms-Healthy Babies is a three-pronged approach to improving birth outcomes and improving the health of infants, focusing on women of childbearing age. It includes preconception and later conception health; prenatal and postpartum care and supporting breastfeeding; and parent, provider and community education to increase infant-health and development knowledge and to prevent injuries and death. Delivering Change also promotes and supports fatherhood and healthy families through the Geared Up Dads advisory council and activities such as Conscious Fathering Classes.
The Kansas Infant Mortality rate reached its lowest level in 2015, at 5.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. According to the 2017 Annual Summary of Vital Statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the state rate remained the same for 2016. the U.S. rate is 5.6 infant deaths per 1,000 births.
“The continuous decline in our county’s infant mortality rate over the last five years is proof that working collaboratively, across disciplines creates success,” said Jill Nelson, Program Coordinator for Delivering Change. “the reduction in our county’s infant mortality rate is an accomplishment that belongs to the community as a whole. The investments of time, energy and funding are working. And we’re thrilled to provide a model for other communities as they begin to address their own challenges in maternal, child and family health.”
Advancing from its grassroots beginnings, when funding came from the March of Dimes and the Geary Community Healthcare Foundation, Delivering Change is backed by a five-year, $3.5 million federal Healthy Start Initiative award, secured in 2014 with assistance from the Center for Public Partnerships & Research at the University of Kansas and administered by KDHE. The project continues Geary County’s collaborative approach, with KDHE as project manager for the grant and CPPR providing evaluation services.