A new research brief by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shows a slight increase in the infant mortality rate last year.
Infant mortality refers to babies who die before their first birthday.
Although the trend has been downward, Kansas has exceeded the national infant mortality rate every year since 2003.
KDHE Secretary Robert Moser says last year’s rate was 6.3 deaths per thousand live births.
“That’s relatively low," he says. "But unfortunately it’s up slightly from 2011.”
And the black infant mortality rate remains more than double the rate for white babies.
Susan McLoughlin heads the Mother and Child Health Coalition of Greater Kansas City. She’s also a member of the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality. McLoughlin says there’s evidence this disparity is at least partly due to stress.
“…the stress of low socio-economic status, sometimes finding employment, or experiencing racism, could all these add to other health factors that put women at risk for more adverse birth outcomes?”
The new report points out that infant mortality is seen as an indicator of the health of whole population.