Infant Mortality | St. Louis Public Radio

Infant Mortality

According to the new study, a woman's weight before her first pregnancy may have long-term effects.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases | National Institutes of Health

Intense stress faced by new moms can also affect the emotional development of their baby. That's a good reason to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income mothers, a St. Louis child psychiatrist argued Tuesday.

“If you want to have healthy infants, you have to have healthy caregivers,” Dr. Cynthia Rogers told an assembly of physicians at Washington University. “And the preterm brain is particularly vulnerable.”

Dr. Shilpa Babbar, an OB-GYN physician for SLUCare in St. Louis County.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Twice as many United States women are dying in childbirth today as in 1990, even though all other wealthy nations have seen declines in maternal mortality rates.

Rising rates of obesity and women having children later in life may help explain the rising number of deaths, said Dr. Shilpa Babbar, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis County.

According to the new study, a woman's weight before her first pregnancy may have long-term effects.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases | National Institutes of Health

The number of infants in Missouri who die in their first year is slowly dropping alongside national numbers, but St. Louis’ infant mortality rate has remained nearly stagnant, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

An example of a safe sleeping practice for infants, without a crib bumper.
National Institutes for Health

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.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Nurses for Newborns is a local organization that seeks to improve the outcome of infants in at-risk families. Since the organization was founded over 20 years ago, the nurses have helped more than 100,000 families raise healthy babies. At any given moment, the nurses are helping more than 1,000 babies younger than age 2 and their families.

Mary Edwards

Reporters Durrie Bouscaren and Camille Phillips have covered a wide variety of issues in the region in the last year. They joined host Don Marsh to discuss the most problematic ones and agreed the two most pressing issues are homicides and heroin addiction. To date there have been 187 homicides in St. Louis but few arrests.

An example of a safe sleeping practice for infants, without a crib bumper.
National Institutes for Health

For babies who move around a lot at night, some new parents may purchase a padded bumper that goes around the edge of the crib to keep their little ones from hurting themselves. But according to a new review of product safety data, the products pose a serious suffocation hazard.  

“Parents walk into a store to buy a crib and they see the cribs with bumpers in them and they say,  'Well, if they weren’t safe, they wouldn’t be selling them.' But that’s not correct,” said Dr. Bradley Thach, professor emeritus of Washington University and a longtime researcher for infant safety.  

Maliyah Isadora, 2 months, and her mother Courtney at their home in Florissant. Maliyah was just four pounds at birth, so the family enrolled in a program to receive home visits from nurses.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

In the zip codes surrounding St. Louis’ nationally-ranked children’s hospitals, a disproportionate number of babies never make it to their first birthday.

North of the Delmar Loop, in 63113, the infant mortality rate is 20 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the most recent five-year averages kept by the state. That’s more than three times the U.S. rate, and on par with countries like Nicaragua and the Marshall Islands. But just a few miles away from 63113’s empty cribs, less than four out of 1,000 babies born in the Clayton's 63105 zip code die in their first year.

Sherry Payne

A Missouri registered nurse who had to abandon plans to walk across the state to raise awareness of black infant mortality rates made her final stop in St. Louis Friday.

Sherry Payne, who is the director of the perinatal health organization Uzazi Village based in Kansas City, gave a presentation at St. Louis University on ways to improve birth outcomes for black babies.

Alex Sciuto | St. Louis Beacon 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In 1875, amid steamboats churning the muddy waterway, a tugboat came up the river from New Orleans and docked in St. Louis with an unexpected problem on board. In addition to a load of sugar from Havana, the boat carried a sick passenger. He was taken to City Hospital where the worst fears of doctors there were confirmed: yellow fever.