Reporter finds causes of infant mortality in Indiana are complex

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, has been AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curated related material at healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Giles Bruce, who covers health for the Times of Northwest Indiana, did deep reporting into infant mortality in Indiana, work that was recognized in AHCJ’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism this year. He started with a disturbing number – 623 babies died before their first birthday in Indiana last year.

In a new “How I Did It” essay, he explains more about his series. He looked at factors ranging from air pollution to ignorance about safe sleep practices for infants, and examined some of the potential solutions, including the role of expanded health insurance coverage, often under Medicaid expansion.

It is not a simple problem, he wrote. Rather it arises from “an intersection of medical and socioeconomic factors that can be difficult to untangle.”

“It’s such a hard nut to crack,” Dr. Debra Litzelman, a professor and researcher with the Indiana University School of Medicine, told him. “In Indiana, we rank poorly in so many areas: smoking, obesity, mental health, alcoholism, substance abuse, access to care. Each one of those is a cumulative risk for infant mortality.”

Read more about his project – and his observations about the role of health reform and Medicaid expansion in reducing infant mortality here.

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