St. Louis nonprofit calls on volunteers to help prevent infant mortality | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis nonprofit calls on volunteers to help prevent infant mortality

Nov 28, 2016

A local initiative to prevent infant deaths in St. Louis is recruiting volunteers at a launch event this week.

After holding listening sessions with parents throughout the region, Flourish St. Louis has decided that transportation, mental health, and access to prenatal care are some of the main ways they can help prevent infant deaths.

“We really need moms, dads, grandparents, people from healthcare but also business, faith communities, funders, government. Anyone who feels that they want to work on any of these issues,” said Kendra Copanas, executive director of Generate Health, formerly the Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition.

In some St. Louis zip codes, the infant mortality rate is more than twice the national average of 5.8 deaths per 1,000. The leading causes of death are congenital malformations, pregnancy complications and disorders related to prematurity or low birth weight,  according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though the infant mortality rate has improved statewide, the disparity is stark when the data is separated by race and ethnicity. In Missouri, the mortality rate for non-Hispanic white infants is 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. For non-Hispanic black infants, the rate is 12.2 per 1,000, according to data analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

“While infant mortality has generally come down, it’s not coming down equally for everyone,” Copanas said.

Additional focus areas for the initiative will be helping people navigate the healthcare system and spreading awareness of "safe sleep" methods to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. 

Flourish will hold is launch event from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the New Northside Conference Center at 5939 Goodfellow Avenue in Jennings.

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