JACKSON METRO AREA, MS (Mississippi News Now) - A report from the CDC shows Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. According to the report, for every 1,000 live births in Mississippi, 9.08 infants die before their 1st birthday.
University of Mississippi Medical Center Neonatalogist Mobolaji Famuyide said there are several factors that contribute to the state's high ranking.
"If you look at the numbers, one of the things that contributes significantly to that infant mortality rate is the rate of prematurity in our state of Mississippi," said Famuyide. "That is a problem we live with here everyday in our NICU at UMMC and one of the things we have as a goal as an institution and as a division to work on improving in the state."
Famuyide said there's not a single reason why some children are born prematurely.
"One of the things we've noticed is what happens to the mom before conception," Famuyide said. "Before she gets pregnant, what's her health like? Is she diabetic? Is it well controlled? Is she hypertensive? Does she have a genetic predisposition to have a premature infant? Does she have adequate access to healthcare?"
If mothers are able to provide breast milk to their infant while in the NICU, Famuyide said an infant's progress can improve.
However, she said parents from rural areas of the state often have difficulty getting to healthcare providers in Jackson.
"It doesn't mean the facility isn't there, it may mean they have no insurance, it may mean they have no transportation which is a big thing in our state," added Famuyide. "No insurance for a pregnant woman is a no-no because we know it's there, but they are not aware of the fact that once you're pregnant, you're covered and you should go to a health center, get registered and taken care of."
Leneka Harris gave birth her daughter prematurely at 7 months, who is now in the NICU at UMMC.
"She came out 1 lb & 11 oz and when she was born. She was born to where she was not able to eat and she did not have a rectum," added Harris. Now, she's 6lbs and she hasn't had her surgery yet but she's working on it."
She said because there was not a facility near her hometown of Prentiss that could provide the care her daughter needed, she had to travel nearly 2 hours away to Jackson.
"It was hard coming up here and not having money and stuff but they made a place for us to stay at the Ronald McDonald House and it's good, I really appreciate it," said Harris said.
Famuyide also listed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as another big contributing factor and said one of the common causes is co-sleeping.
"That will take a huge community effort and education," she said. "Not just from providers but even from local churches, mom and pop shops, and everybody just sending out the message that It's okay for you to have your baby, it's okay for them to be on their back. Yes, your mom didn't nurse you on your back but it's a new day and we have more information, and this is the right thing to do."
We all know last year we had a significant number and there are initiatives as well going on across the state to tackle that problem.
Famuyide said lowering the state's IMR is going to have to be a collaborative effort between government, healthcare providers and communities.
"It's going to take the whole village," said Famuyide. "It's gonna take all of us working together, understanding each community and understanding that one hat does not fit all. Working with each community to see what the needs are, is a big part of starting to solve the problem."