St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) The Minnesota Department of Health has announced a new plan aimed at reducing the state’s infant mortality rate, particularly among minority populations.

While Minnesota has one of the lowest overall infant mortality rates in the U.S., the rate is still about twice as high as some other industrialized nations at 4.9-percent. The report also shows the infant mortality rate among African American and American Indian Minnesotans is almost twice as high as the statewide average at over 9-percent.

“Minnesota has some of the lowest infant mortality rates in the country, but it is not acceptable that American Indian and African American infants are dying at twice the rate of white infants,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “This plan underscores that, if we are to improve overall infant survival, we must do more to address the social and economic factors impacting infant mortality in Minnesota.”

The Report shows the top causes of death differ by race. Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality overall, while premature birth is a leading cause among African Americans and Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDS) is the leading cause among American Indian babies.

The plan contains seven broad recommendations.

  • Improving health equity and addressing the social determinants of health that most significantly impact disparities in birth outcomes.

  • Reducing the rate of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID).

  • Ensuring a comprehensive statewide system that monitors infant mortality.

  • Providing comprehensive, culturally appropriate, coordinated health care to all women during the preconception, pregnancy and post-partum periods.

  • Reducing the rate of preterm births in Minnesota.

  • Improving the rate of pregnancies that are planned, and reducing the rate of teen pregnancies.

  • Creating a stakeholder task force to guide implementation of recommendations and action steps.

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