August 4, 2009
Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced Tuesday that Virginia’s infant mortality rate has declined to its lowest level in history, with 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008, down from 7.7 in 2007.
The rate among the state’s African-American population was also reduced to its lowest levels ever, with 12.2 deaths per 1,000 in 2008, down from 15.5 in 2007.
These dramatic improvements follow major efforts by the Kaine administration to reduce the Commonwealth’s infant mortality rate, including the establishment of the Health Reform Commission in 2006, which recommended targeted strategies to improve this critical health indicator.
“While we mark today’s announcement as a major milestone in the health care outcomes of our Commonwealth, we all know that there is still work to be done,” said Governor Kaine. “We have not only set a new benchmark for Virginia’s overall infant mortality rate, we are seeing encouraging progress in closing the gap in racial health disparities.”
Governor Kaine set the goal of reducing Virginia’s infant mortality rate to below 7.0 per 1,000 live births, a goal the state has now exceeded.
A state’s infant mortality rate, the number of deaths before age one per 1,000 live births, reflects the quality and availability of prenatal and birth care for both children and mothers.
While the rate in Virginia has been trending down over the years, from 12.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1982, the rate has consistently remained higher than the national average. At the same time, the rate among African-Americans has consistently exceeded that of the overall population.
Under Governor Kaine’s leadership, a number of policies have directly targeted the challenge of infant mortality, including:
· FAMIS MOMs Program—Effective July 1, 2009, expectant mothers with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level are eligible for Virginia’s FAMIS MOMs program to provide more women with prenatal care.
·Virginia Department of Health Programs—Working in collaboration with stakeholders, the Virginia Department of Health administers a variety of programs, including Resource Mothers, which promotes the health of pregnant women and women with young children.
·Future Moms Program—Established in 2008, this program reduces out-of-pocket expenses for state employees and their families who enroll in early prenatal care.