Did you know that Arizona achieved an historic low Infant Mortality Rate (5.9 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births) in 2009? Infant mortality has long been a public health barometer to assess the general health of a community because good birth outcomes require a host of things to go right.
There are many risk factors for poor birth outcomes. The main causes of infant mortality are low birth weight and prematurity. Some risk factors include smoking, alcohol & other drug use, hypertension, diabetes, gum disease. Maternal obesity increases the risk of birth defects, preterm births, and fetal/infant deaths. Risk of prematurity, low birth weight, and infant mortality increases significantly with multiple births (having twins, triplets, or more). The risk of infant mortality among twins/triplet’s etc. is 3.65 times greater than for among “singletons” in AZ.
Improving birth outcomes by minimizing risk factors is called preconception health and it’s a top priority for our Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health. Important elements to improve outcomes include several factors before pregnancy including:
- stopping smoking;
- avoiding alcohol & other drugs;
- maintaining a healthy weight;
- taking a multivitamin with folic acid (before pregnancy);
- planning and properly spacing pregnancies;
- brushing your teeth and gums twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss;
- seeing a dentist;
- keeping stress in check; and
- using seat belts throughout pregnancy to prevent maternal & infant mortality.
It’s also important to get early prenatal care to help manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
You can read more about our specific interventions at our Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health page and you can also check out our “Every Woman Arizona” educational materials- which promote health before pregnancy.