WLOX in Biloxi is reporting:
More Mississippi babies are dying today than at any time since 1993. Mississippi, which already had the nation's highest infant mortality rate, saw an increase in deaths from 417 in 2004 to 481 in 2005. With a rate of 11.4, nearly twice as many babies die in Mississippi as they do elsewhere. The national average is 6.8, and the state with the next highest infant death rate is Louisiana at 9.7, according to the National Vital Statistics Report.
According to state Department of Health statistics, most of the increase in infant deaths came among the nonwhite population, the rate increasing from 14.2 to 17; the number of deaths rose from 273 to 328. The rate for white infants rose from 6.1 to 6.6; the number of deaths increased from 144 to 153.
With the closing of the School of Nurse-Midwifery at UMC during the 80s, we have seen an appreciable increase in infant mortality. Also, the closing of so many local State Hospitals has added to the problem. Women in Homes County must travel to Greenville or to Jackson for delivery. So many things can go wrong at the last minute during a pregnancy. The ambulance service is limited in this area and by the time the pregnant woman reaches the hospital, it is often too late.
The Nurse-Midwifery Program was closed in Jackson by pressure from the OB community of MDs who saw thieir presence as a threat to their business. In other words, it was an economic factor. Needless to say, Nurse-Midwives were working in areas of the State where there was very little health care. MS stats will evidence the decrease in infant mortality during the involvement of the nurse-midwife. These were higly trained professionals.