To help lower Indiana’s high maternal and infant mortality rates, State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) said there are new resources available for Hoosier moms and their newborns.
With the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation, more than 600 Hoosier babies died before their first birthday in 2017, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Indiana also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates. Kirchhofer, chair of the House Public Health Committee, said engaging more at-risk expectant mothers in early prenatal care is key to lowering these numbers.
“Too many mothers in Indiana don’t get to experience milestones like first smiles and first steps with their children,” Kirchhofer said. “To give them and their babies a chance to live and grow, they need medical care throughout their pregnancy and beyond. For those who aren’t sure where to turn once they become pregnant, please know there are people who are ready to help and resources available to keep you and your baby healthy.”
According to Kirchhofer, the recently launched Maternal and Child Health MOMS Helpline connects pregnant women to early and regular prenatal care, along with a network of prenatal and child health care services within their local communities and throughout the state. Women in need can visit in.gov/isdh and click on “MOMS Helpline,” or call 1 (844) MCH-MOMS; 1 (844) 624-6667 for resources.
Kirchhofer said the MOMS Helpline is just one of several tools Indiana offers to support expectant and new mothers. The perinatal navigator pilot program, established in 2019 through a law Kirchhofer authored, connects expectant mothers to prenatal care, and provides referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in Indiana’s highest-risk counties. She said more than 10 programs are already operating, including Marion County’s program, which launched July 14.
With many Hoosier babies born addicted to drugs, and to help expectant mothers receive referrals to treatment programs early, they can also be screened for substance abuse. Kirchhofer said women are often more motivated to seek addiction help when they become pregnant.
“The goal here is to ensure both mom and baby are healthy before, during and after birth,” Kirchhofer said. “Babies exposed to drugs or alcohol before birth have a higher chance of dying from SIDS. By providing resources and avenues for mothers to seek treatment, we hope to see less babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome.”
Visit in.gov/isdh for more resources and information on Indiana’s efforts to support Hoosier moms and babies.
State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) represents House District 89, which includes portions of Marion County.