Using Data to Lower Indiana’s Infant Mortality Rate

The Challenge

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indiana has the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the country. Indiana’s infant mortality rate is the highest rate in the Midwest. In April 2019, Governor Holcomb signed a bill directly to address the alarmingly high infant mortality rate. With that, the OB Navigator program was born. The OB Navigator program will connect women with home-visitation services and require healthcare providers to verbally screen expectant mothers for drug and alcohol use to decrease infant mortality rates in Indiana.

The Indiana chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society hosted a Healthy Mom + Baby Datapalooza to leverage technology and data to decrease Indiana’s high infant mortality rate. The competition asked for contestants to create data analyses to help steer policies and initiatives with Governor Holcomb’s OB Navigator program.

Data Dictates Discovery

Our data team spent a substantial amount of time in the data preprocessing phase of this project. The data sources provided by the challenge came from different locations (ISDH, Regenstrief Institute, Indiana Census, etc.) in multiple formats. To account for as much data as possible despite the several different formats, our final analysis plan involved three parts:

  1. Multiple linear regression
  2. Logistic regression
  3. Series of chi-squared, statistical tests

Multiple linear regression and a logistic regression model was built to better understand the predictors for infant death and their significance at the county level. After, our team of consultants ran a series of chi-squared tests to utilize key data about individual births, such as mothers’ marital status and type of living region (urban, rural, etc.) on infant survival rates in the first year.

Impact

CSpring’s analysis provided insight into how socioeconomic factors have strong effects on OB-GYN care/maternal support space. The top three predictors of infant deaths were:

  1. Median household income
  2. Access to healthcare
  3. Wellbeing of infants

CSpring’s chi-squared analysis also discovered that maternal marital status and breastfeeding habits have a significant effect on infants’ survival. Epidemiologists and clinicians at the event agreed, acknowledging that single mothers often lack the support system to navigate their pregnancy and early post-partum stages of childcare. It’s also possible that these mothers lack proper education on maternal care, the ability to breastfeed, and the time to prepare to care for a newborn.

We provided key stakeholders of the OB Navigator program with information regarding Indiana’s socioeconomic status and social factors and their effects on the infant mortality rate. Understanding the health of infants is not just a matter of understanding health claims – it begins with understanding the socioeconomic status and support system of the mother throughout her pregnancy and in the early post-partum stages of infant care.

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