By Associated Press - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - State health officials gathering for a summit on ways to combat Indiana’s high infant mortality rate will hear from a woman whose newborn son died after sleeping in an unsafe position.

Thursday’s summit at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis will feature state, national and local leaders and experts on the causes behind infant mortality.

One of the speakers will be Maura Hanke, whose first son, Charlie, died from sudden infant death syndrome in 2010 at three weeks of age. She co-founded Charlie’s Kids Foundation, which works to increase safe sleep awareness and education to reduce the nation’s SIDS mortality rate.

State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams said it’s “startling and heartbreaking” that one baby dies every 13 hours in Indiana, which in 2011 had the nation’s sixth-highest infant mortality rate, with 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

That rate measures deaths among babies in their first year of life and is a key indicator of a state’s well-being.

“We don’t want any babies dying, and certainly we take note of the fact that we are over the national average, and so that’s one of the most important things - educating about a problem,” Adams told the Evansville Courier & Press ( ).

Infant mortality and low birth weight babies are linked to women who smoke during pregnancy, and Indiana has a higher rate than the national average of women who use tobacco while pregnant.

About 16.5 percent of Indiana women smoke during pregnancy, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.


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