Saskatoon Health Region looks to reduce infant mortality
Where a baby is born in Saskatoon, could determine their survival rate.
According to a report released this morning by the Saskatoon Health Region, babies born to mothers in the core neighbourhoods are at greater risk of low birth weight, prematurity, sudden infant death syndrome, injuries and infections.
"We're not happy with where we are stuck at the core. It is much higher than the overall average in the city, so we need to work to bring that rate down," said Dr. Johnmark Opondo, deputy medical health officer with the region about the Reducing Infant Mortality study.
Infant mortality rates are decreasing overall across the health region, but Opondo said there are disparities.
"The trend is in the right direction, but we are not satisfied in with the persistent gap," he said.
According to the report, the leading risk factors of infant mortality are high teenage pregnancy rates and low socioeconomic status.
"Older mothers are probably better prepared for child birth than our teenage moms," Opondo said.
But knowing the data is the first step to addressing the gaps, he said. Opondo said he estimates that at least half of the cases of death could be prevented through variety of interventions.
"As a region, we're definitely going to be redoubling our efforts, in terms of services, that are intentionally trying to reach individuals form the inner city core," he said,
The leading causes of infant mortality in 2005 were birth defects (37.8 per cent), premature births/low birth weights (31 per cent) and sudden infant death syndrome (6.9 per cent).
Opondo said looking at infant mortality is important as it is a broad indicator of health status in the community.
"Countries with high infant mortality are countries less developed and less focused on the overall good health status of the population," he said.
"It is maternal-child, but it's also access to services."
Recommendation in the report focusing on improving overall health in women and infants and include conducting review of every infant death in the region, starting an education campaign and expanding access to pre natal care.
Opondo said some of the recommendations will be implemented immediately, while others will be dependent on funding into the future.
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