“Labor of Love” campaign to reduce infant deaths in Indiana

Indiana First Lady Karen Pence and Dr. Jeff Sperring, president and CEO of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, announce the Labor of L

Each year in Indiana, approximately 654 babies die before reaching their first birthdays. This puts Indiana 39th in the nation for infant mortality, a tragic issue that is largely preventable. The state plans to reverse these statistics with a new public health campaign called “Labor of Love,” officially launched at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Led by the Indiana State Department of Health, Labor of Love aims to educate and support Hoosier mothers so they may have healthy pregnancies and infants.

“Healthy babies mean a healthy Indiana,” said First Lady Karen Pence, who announced the campaign at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. “Over the next several months, the Labor of Love messages will be seen statewide on all major television stations, bus shelters, in a diverse array of publications and radio. The message is simple: as soon as you think you are pregnant, get prenatal care.  If you can’t afford it, visit the Labor of Love website at laboroflove.in.gov, or call 211, to learn about your options.”

The Labor of Love campaign features powerful public service announcements, including a video that features an infant currently under treatment at Riley’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Many of the reasons for infant mortality are preventable. In Indiana, nearly a third of mothers do not obtain prenatal care, which can identify congenital problems and reduce prenatal issues long before birth. Additionally, Hoosier mothers smoke during pregnancy at nearly twice the rate of moms across the U.S. After birth, Indiana also lags behind the nation in the percentage of our moms who breastfeed. 

Minority babies, particularly African-American babies, are especially at a disadvantage when it comes to infant death. In 2012, the African-American infant mortality rate was three times that of the white infant mortality rate. 

“We must do everything in our power to correct this disparity and work to save all infant lives,” said Pence.

Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health partnered in the development of the Labor of Love campaign, kicking off the program in the hospital lobby January 14.

“This morning, some of those miracles are happening just four floors above us, where our world-class neonatal intensive care unit is providing hope and extraordinary care and support to premature infants, babies with complex congenital conditions and their families at their greatest time of need,” said Dr. Jeff Sperring, president and CEO of Riley Hospital. “But the challenge of infant mortality requires leadership, partnerships and support at the highest levels.  We are incredibly fortunate that we have that commitment and leadership from our Governor’s office and the Indiana State Department of Health.”

The Labor of Love campaign will focus on the importance of:

  • Early and regular prenatal care;
  • Safe sleep practices;
  • Avoiding tobacco, drugs and alcohol before, during and after pregnancy; and,
  • Breastfeeding.

More information on Labor of Love can be found online at www.LaborofLove.in.gov.