With the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation, there is much to be done in our state to ensure more Hoosier babies live to celebrate their first birthday. The Indiana House passed legislation this session to help engage more at-risk expectant mothers in early prenatal care.

Under this proposal, medical providers would check for signs of substance abuse in pregnant women through a consultation and refer those in need to treatment programs as early as possible. This goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, because for pregnant mothers who use drugs or consume alcohol, there is often a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

This legislation would also establish a perinatal navigator pilot program, which would help expectant mothers receive prenatal care sooner, and provide referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in the 13 highest-risk counties.

House Bill 1007 builds off previous legislative efforts, including Safety PIN, which is a grant available to health departments and other health care related entities, or nonprofit organizations focused on addressing infant mortality.

Although Indiana’s infant mortality rate remains stubbornly high, taking these vital steps will help connect those most in need to medical resources before, during and after birth.

To track this and other bills, watch committee meetings and view session live, visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website here.