Infant mortality rates in Walsall remain higher than national average
Infant mortality rates in Walsall are still far higher than the national average, says a new report, despite a new strategy to tackle to the issue.
Members of the Walsall Health and Well-being Board were presented data on the issue of children dying under the age of one in the borough at a meeting on Tuesday.
A report showed that rates in Walsall had reduced from 7.6 per 1,000 births in 2010 to 2012 to 6.2 per 1,000 births in 2015 to 2017 – the most recent figure recorded.
But this left the Walsall borough still significantly above the average national rate which is currently 3.9 per 1,000 births.
Public health officers told members of the board that there were many factors which contributed to the deaths of children aged one and under but work was being done to achieve a 50 per cent reduction by 2025.
Among the causes were smoking in pregnancy, low birth weight, prematurity, maternal obesity and deprivation.
The Walsall Infant Mortality Strategy was launched in 2016 to help address these issues.
It focuses on supporting mental health and well-being, supporting healthy pregnancies, identifying and cutting risks, supporting vulnerable mothers and ensuring a baby has a safe and caring environment .
Esther Higdon, senior commissioning and programme development manager said: “We have made progress within the infant mortality strategy.
“We have achieved quite a significant rate of reductions in infant mortality and those reductions have been sustained.
“There are lots of elements that contribute to infant mortality. Everybody needs to play a part in reducing it from the hospitals and healthcare to people out in the communities supporting people to quit smoking and to enter pregnancies as healthily as they can be.”
She added that they were looking at doing more work around mental health amongst pregnant women and tackling risk factors such as vitamin supplementation and ensuring more attention is paid to lower birth weight babies.
Walsall’s public health team is also looking to work with housing providers to promote smoke-free messages in the home.
Dr Uma Viswanathan, consultant in public health, added that infant mortality was a “complex issue” but progress was being made in Walsall.
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