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MCH-038: Infant Health and Wellness in Wisconsin

Infant Health and Wellness in Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Medical Society recognizes the severity and significance of high infant mortality rates in the state and is concerned by the racial and socioeconomic disparities of infant and stillborn deaths and preterm birth rates. To address these issues, the Society supports reducing Wisconsin’s infant mortality rate and improving birth outcomes via these principles:

Increase health equity and reduce disparities of birth outcomes through improving the social, economic, educational and environmental determinants of health. The Society supports:

  • Targeting social determinants of health through investments in high-risk, under-resourced areas that emphasize the reduction of poverty on families during childbearing years.
  • Addressing racial disparities by supporting culturally appropriate infant mortality programs and policies, focusing on Wisconsin’s specific racial and ethnic composition.
  • Adding a health equity perspective to approaching programs and policies that support healthier birth outcomes.

Improve data collection and quality surveillance systems associated with birth outcomes measurement. The Society supports:

  • Improving timely and accurate reporting of existing data collection programs and better facilitating the translation of real-time data.
  • Prioritizing research into the causes and prevention of infant mortality and poor birth outcomes, including biological mechanisms, through local, state and national agencies and organizations.
  • Building interagency, public-private, and multidisciplinary collaboration at the national, state, community, family and individual levels with organizations surveying infant mortality, women’s health, family health and lifecourse wellbeing.
  • Improving and building upon existing evidence-based quality measures for health care professionals.

Improve the health of women across the lifespan. The Society encourages applying a lifecourse perspective, which conceptualizes birth outcomes as a product of the entire life of the mother in addition to the pregnancy and early childhood. The Society supports:

  • Encouraging lifecourse well-being at every age and every life stage, including pre-, intra-, inter- and post-partum, through routine discussions between physician or health care professional and patient that include:
    1. Risk factors leading to poor birth outcomes including sexually transmitted infections, tobacco and marijuana use, substance abuse, chronic conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension, and infection), domestic violence and mental health.
    2. The importance of identifying, screening and monitoring women with pre-existing, high-risk medical conditions including previous preterm birth, mental health issues and chronic diseases.
    3. The maintenance of healthy weight, exercise and nutrition throughout the lifespan.
    4. Culturally competent care.
  • Advocating for aligning pay structures and incentives that reward physicians and health care systems for lifecourse perspective care delivery.
  • Advocating for improvements in the health system that allow physicians to provide high quality, continuous, patient-centered comprehensive care.
  • Reducing the women’s health care professional shortage and increasing access to care by promoting collaborative practice.

Support evidence-based preventive interventions at the community level to improve birth outcomes. The Society supports:

  • Developing new and maintaining already successful culturally appropriate health promotion and social marketing campaigns that encourage family planning, safe sleep, smoking cessation, seat belt use and other infant mortality prevention interventions.
  • Improving comprehensive and preventive reproductive health care for men and women of reproductive age through promoting comprehensive sexual education and use of family planning, including pregnancy preparedness, optimal inter-pregnancy intervals and access to contraceptives.
  • Active engagement of fathers and caregivers.
  • Advocating for programs and policies that are known to reduce infant mortality rates and improve birth outcomes. (HOD, 0415)