South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday August 5, 2020
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June 2016 - Volume 12 - Issue 12
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Community Meeting Seeks Answers to Infant Mortality

The Florida Department of Health is hosting a community meeting June 17 to discuss results of an analysis conducted on infant mortality. Karen Weller, Director of the Office of Community Health and Planning, explained the motivation behind the meeting. "Actually it's a directive from our state health office," she said, "and what they had been noticing was that there were problems with the infant mortality rate statewide."

Weller said that while the rate is low in Miami-Dade County, it is more of a problem in other areas throughout Florida. "Our former state surgeon general had originally put out the request that we study it. So as a result of that, we developed the Florida Healthy Babies Initiative, and they are requesting that all 67 counties do an assessment of their infant mortality rate."
 
Infant mortality is considered to be the death of a child that occurs in the first year of life, and the Florida Healthy Babies Initiative is providing funding to conduct an enhanced data analysis on the subject. Recent data shows that Miami-Dade County's rate is 4.6 per 100,000 individuals, a figure that has been decreasing over the past 10 years.
Weller talked about some of the factors that can play a part in infants dying so young. She said some of the problems can be caused by congenital anomalies, or because of chronic disease –particularly if the mother has a chronic disease. As examples, she mentioned such issues as hypertension, asthma, any kind of cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.
 
"These conditions can definitely have an effect on the babies as they are born," she said. "Another thing we're noticing, too, is that some women are waiting a little longer, so they are a little bit older when they are having their first baby; and that can correlate with the chronic disease component. We're also finding that we have mothers who may have sexually transmitted diseases, and those definitely will have an impact on the mortality rate, in addition to our HIV rates, or if there's any substance abuse that occurs. So those are the specific things we are looking at and the different causes of the problems."
 
As for the meeting, Weller said what they are hoping to achieve is to look at the data and see exactly where in the county the problems exist, and what the specific causes of death are. "After we finish doing that, we want to develop an action plan to see how we're going to tackle some of these causes, like the heart failure and the chronic respiratory diseases, and we're also going to be looking at babies that are born prematurely. We're going to review all of the different data sets to see if there's any correlation, and then, based on what we find, we'll determine what action plan we can do to help our rates get even better."
 
In addition, Weller said the group wants to stress healthier behavior like eating vegetables and fruits, and eating healthy meals. "You know, we have areas in the county where those types of meals are not easily accessible. That can have a definite impact on a woman who is pregnant and not able to sustain herself or provide the nutrients the baby needs. So those are the types of areas we want to review, and we want to look at the environment as well as the actual disease."
 
Weller said the meeting is open to the professionals in the community – nurses, doctors, social workers, nutritionists – anybody who is involved with infants and children and is interested in the topic. "Those are the people we are going to be sharing the data with, and once shared, we will develop an action plan in hopes of meeting with community residents who are really affected, to see what their thoughts are and what struggles they're having."

The Florida Healthy Babies Community Meeting will be Friday, June 17 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at 5-Star Conference Center, 7415 Corporate Center Drive, Suite H, Miami. For more information, call (305) 278-0442 or visit www.flhealth.gov.

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