Creating a generation of healthier women and children

Author: Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary

In an effort to create a generation of healthier women and children in Louisiana, The Department of Health has implemented many initiatives to encourage change and improvement.

We launched the Louisiana Birth Outcomes quality effort in 2010. The team included staff from Medicaid, the Office of Public Health, the Louisiana Perinatal Commission and other medical experts, and is beginning to see some results of their work including a decrease in infant mortality.

Infant mortality represents the number of babies who die before their first birthday and is expressed per 1,000 live births.

Recent data shows from 2005 to 2014, the Louisiana infant mortality rate dropped from 10.1 per 1,000 births to 7.6 per 1,000 births – a 25 percent decrease. This decrease is better than the national average of 15 percent during this same time period. It means there were about 160 fewer infant deaths in 2014 than in 2005.

For African American women: the 2005 rate was 15.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births; the 2014 rate was 11.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This difference is also about a 25 percent reduction. The estimated number of infant deaths averted is about 92.

Louisiana has worked tirelessly to reduce pre-term births and infant mortality through focused interventions including the 39 week initiative which educated moms and providers on the risks associated with delivering before 39 weeks gestation; Medicaid reforms; education; increased access to reproductive health services; STD prevention, testing and treatment; and smoking cessation for residents of child-bearing age.

Some of our ongoing initiatives include:
  • Increasing access to reproductive health services and the full range of contraceptive methods - including a recent Medicaid policy change for reimbursement related to Long-Acting-Reversible-Contraception for women who want them.
  • Partnering with the March of Dimes, Medicaid, and the Louisiana Perinatal Commission to make sure 17P is available. 17P is medicine that can help prevent preterm birth in some pregnant women who have previously had a preterm birth.
  • Implementing two evidence-based models of home visiting services that provide family coaching and support to  expectant mothers and new families.
  • Leading statewide efforts with families, delivery hospitals, providers, first responders, and communities on strategies to help babies sleep safely.
We recognize that we still have much work to do, but I am confident that by working together with health care providers, community leaders and individual Louisiana residents, we can change the future of our women’s and children’s health. 

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