It's shocking to know that for every 1,000 babies born in Mississippi, 9.4 died before their first birthday in 2011. As a whole, the United States has 6 infant deaths per 1,000 births. Missisippi's high rates of infant mortality puts them with Costa Rica (9.2), Sri Lanka (9.5), and Botswana (10.5). Which is why it's even more troubling. What is going on in Mississippi to make it the most risky place to have a baby? It makes me want to scoop up all the pregnant women and move them elsewhere.
Experts say it's not the state, it's the women who live there. But I'm still suspect. Is there something in the water or the soil down there? Louisiana and Alabama -- the two states on either side of Mississippi -- also have high rates of children dying within the first 12 months. Researchers have their suspicions of reasons why this is happening, but there are women who don't fit their description who have lost children and they don't know why.
In Mississippi, premature birth is far too common. But why are so many women there having babies too soon? Doctors think it may be the high amount of overweight and obese women having babies and that puts the child's health at risk. Mississippi leads the US in obesity.
But there are women who aren't overweight who have premature babies.
The leading cause of infant death is birth defects and while not all are preventable, the risk can be reduced by being healthy -- no smoking, drinking, or using drugs.
There are women who are the picture of health who have babies who die.
Other factors that some believe could play into why so many babies in Mississippi die are the high rate of teen birth, which goes hand in hand with prematurity, as well as poverty. Mississippi has the highest rate of teen pregnancies and people living below the poverty line. Uninsured women may not get necessary prenatal care, particularly when it was very needed.
It's also believed that race plays a role. The CDC reports that African-American women are 50 percent more likely to have a preemie. Forty percent of infants in Mississippi are born to African-American women, which could bring up the mortality rate.
I still can't help but wonder why. Why would race, age, and income affect some babies and not all? Is that really the reason? There are far more questions than answers here, but more needs to be done to help the families in Mississippi, which could then help us find more answers to bring the infant mortality rates down all over America.
What do you think of these findings?
Image via Weird Beard/Flickr