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Health Experts Discuss How To Lower Indiana's Maternal Mortality Rate

About 100 Hoosier women die every year from pregnancy-related complications. A panel of health experts and policymakers are pushing for greater awareness of the issue and access to care. 

Indiana ranks near the bottom when compared to other states, but the CDC says about 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. And Black women face pregnancy related deaths three to four times more than white women. 

Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) said Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is unacceptable.

"We are losing mothers to simple things," Summers said. "And we have got to be about changing the things that we know we can change and doing some new things to make the numbers for women in Indiana go down."

She spoke Wednesday during an event focused on infant and maternal mortality and organized by non-profit Women4Change. 

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State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box pointed to best prenatal practices and state initiatives like the My Healthy Baby programas examples of ways to prevent maternal deaths. The program connects a woman with one-on-one support during and after pregnancy. 

Box said a state’s infant and maternal mortality rates are windows to the overall health of the population. 

“We really do need to look at the state of Indiana knowing that we've had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation for many, many years,” Box said.

Box said substance use and mental health are two of the biggest contributors to maternal death. She said more education and better access to care are key in lowering maternal and infant mortality rates.

Contact reporter Darian at dbenson@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @HelloImDarian.

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