Panel: Infant death rate in Wyandotte County worst in country - News, Weather & Sports

Panel: Infant death rate in Wyandotte County worst in country


More infants are dying in Wyandotte County than any other county in Kansas, but the alarming numbers don't stop there.

The infant death rate in Kansas for African-American babies is the worst in the nation.  Researchers are still trying to determine the cause.

On average each year, about 30 babies die before they reach their first birthday.

A new program called MOM (Maternal Options that Matter) hopes to bring prenatal care to those who need it.

At a recent visit to the Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care Clinic, a young couple just heard their baby's heartbeat for the first time and getting prenatal care.

Unfortunately, many women in Wyandotte County don't get the much needed care.

"We are really trying to get women in early for prenatal care. We are trying to provide them with all of the support they need so they will have healthy babies. Our real goal is to have more babies in Wyandotte County celebrate their first birthday," said Sharon Lee, president and CEO of Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care.

Lee is pushing to change the dismal infant mortality rates in Wyandotte County.

"Sad to say Wyandotte County has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the county, specifically our black infant mortality rate is very high," Lee said.

The program offers free pregnancy tests to women.  The goal is to get them care as soon as they know they are pregnant or sooner.

"Our goal is to actually get women to start folic acid, which is a prenatal vitamin, even prior to becoming pregnant," Lee said.

MOM will offer prenatal and delivery services by partnering with the university of Kansas Family Medicine Department and nurse-midwifery program.

"We focus on taking care of the whole woman, looking at social issues, psychological issues, as well as her health and having the healthiest pregnancy that she can," certified nurse-midwife Cara Busenhart said.

Midwives, like Busenhart, will guide women through their pregnancy to keep each mom and baby healthy.

The Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality took a close look at this issue in 2009.  The panel found five zip codes had the highest infant mortality rates.

Those zip codes included 66101, 66102, 66104, which are located in Wyandotte County.

The founders of MOM are holding an open house event Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon to kick off the new effort.

If anyone needs prenatal care or would like to donate, click here.

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