Listen Live

(INDIANAPOLIS) – About 600 babies a year in Indiana die before their first birthday. Central Indiana hospitals are discussing how to change that.


Doctors already know how to fix infant mortality: get women better health care before they get pregnant. But seven of the 15 worst clusters of infant mortality in Indiana are low-income Marion County zip codes, and poverty creates obstacles to receiving that care. Women may lack the money or insurance to pay for a doctor visit, or may not have transportation to get there.


And Indianapolis Urban League health and wellness director LaRona Dixon says for minority communities, there are cultural barriers as well. She says there’s historical suspicion of the medical establishment, which is only underlined when women of color walk into a clinic and see only white faces.


Doctors, nurses and other professionals from all five Indianapolis hospital systems gathered for a summit organized by Community Health Network to brainstorm ways to get women the care they need. State health commissioner Kristina Box says doctors need to not only break down lingering mistrust, but build awareness of just how important prenatal care is.


Indiana’s infant mortality rate is one in 137, but nearly twice that among African-Americans. Even the overall rate is 25{e0016bc526488076cccec5187651e4db422187ce89e640e1eb2a2519a6ce4707} higher than the national average.

(Photo: China Photos/Getty Images)


While the worst pockets of deaths are in Marion County, Box says there are clusters in Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Lake and Tippecanoe Counties, and in some rural areas. One-third of Indiana counties don’t have a hospital with an ob/gyn unit.