Governor Bredesen Hosts Infant Mortality Summit

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Memphis - Gov. Phil Bredesen joined Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton and more than 200 stakeholders from state and county government, and legislative, not-for profit, education, faith-based and the health care communities today to develop and outline a strategy to address infant mortality in Shelby County.

Infant mortality refers to the death of a live-born infant at any point before the first year of life. In 2004, Shelby County’s infant mortality rate (the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births) of 12.8 was 48.8 percent greater than Tennessee’s rate of 8.6. For seven of the last 10 years, Shelby County has had the highest infant mortality rate in the state.

“While this summit is taking place in Memphis, one to two babies under one year of age may die in Tennessee, and there’s a good chance one or both of them will be in Shelby County,” said Gov. Bredesen. “Making a meaningful difference in modifying behaviors, lifestyles and conditions that affect birth outcomes will take community collaboration. There is something every single family member, neighbor and friend can do to help combat infant mortality.”

"This situation is urgent and for that reason, the summit will be a true ‘working’ summit. We have held numerous sessions throughout the Shelby County community to ascertain precisely what hurdles must be overcome and what resources are required to do so,” said Mayor Wharton.

“We realize that any successful solution will involve multiple disciplines and have met with the faith-based, medical and social work sectors of our community. Everyone who participates in this summit will leave with a clear plan for a concrete course of action.”

Overall, Tennessee’s infant mortality rate is one of the worst in the nation, ranking 48th compared to other states. Only Louisiana (49) and Mississippi (50) have worse infant mortality rates. The infant mortality rate for Tennessee’s African-American babies is more than two-and-a-half times the rate for white babies.

Factors that can increase the risk of infant mortality include low birth weight (babies weighing less than five pounds, eight ounces); a mother’s lack of high school diploma or equivalent; a mother’s lack of prenatal care and/or use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; and improperly placing babies on their stomachs to sleep.

However, planned and properly spaced pregnancies, early and regular prenatal care, breastfeeding, strong family support, regular exercise, avoidance of alcohol and drugs, women of child-bearing age knowing to take folic acid, and safe sleep practices are essential components in reducing infant mortality.

Also, racial disparities exist in infant mortality. African-American babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white babies, and black mothers are also twice as likely to receive inadequate or no prenatal care as white mothers.

Further, black infants die more than twice as often as white infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is associated with poor sleep practices for babies.

“For the last few years in Tennessee, at least 680 babies died before their first birthday,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. “The Department of Health is committed to addressing the prevalence of infant mortality and significantly reducing its rate in Tennessee.”

The Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination, the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet and the state Department of Health continue to explore and develop new partnerships and collaborations with other state governmental agencies; local, municipal and county governments; community-based organizations; and business and faith-based communities that share the vision of seeing more babies survive to their first birthdays.


Chattanooga State Hosts Prescription Drug Abuse Presentation On Friday

Chattanooga State’s Pharmacy Technician Program and Community Health Institute will sponsor a presentation on Tennessee’s Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse on Friday, at 11 a.m. in the Humanities Theatre. Angela McKinney Jones, the director of the Tennessee Office of Prevention Services within the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, will be the keynote ... (click for more)

Debra Chew: Spiritual Well-Being And Surviving Breast Cancer

I don’t look good in pink – but October is pink-out month - and it is everywhere for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The U.S. and world awareness of this important issue for women’s health is particularly important to me, for I am the daughter of a breast cancer survivor.  This year, as so many lined up at the World’s Fair Park for the Race for the Cure, I was ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Firm Gets $1,010,000 Contract For Overseeing VW Expansion For New SUV Line

A Chattanooga firm is getting the contract for overseeing the construction work for the new SUV line at the Volkswagen plant. Officials said the EMJ Corporation has been selected for the project that will give a new surge of activity and employment at the plant at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. The work includes additions to the body shop and tech center and adding ... (click for more)

Man Airlifted To Erlanger After Early Morning Crash In Bradley County

Bradley County EMS responded to an early morning crash Thursday at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road in Charleston. Three ambulances and an EMS supervisor responded to the scene. There were three vehicles involved and one car left the roadway.   One adult man suffered serious injuries and it was determined that he needed ... (click for more)

Chairs Cost How Much?

Many times while growing up, I would go to the store with my parents. More often than not, I would see something I wanted, and ask my parents to buy it for me. More often than not, they said no. “Why?” I asked. “Son, money doesn’t grow on trees.” That’s a phrase I’m sure many of us have heard more than once over the course of our lives. However, I have since learned that they were ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Dear Friend Luther

One sunny morning in June years ago, the renowned radio icon Luther Masingill was on his way back to the WDEF studios on South Broad Street when he stopped for a red light and noticed a young couple in a car idling next to his familiar light blue Ford pickup. “What caught my eye was a buck-toothed boy eating a banana in the back seat,” he explained in an aside to that day’s lunchtime ... (click for more)