Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, County Legislature Majority Leader Steve Tucciarello (R - Gates, Ogden), and Legislature Minority Leader Carrie Andrews (D - Rochester) announced the County has established a partnership with the Perinatal Network of Monroe County to better study infant mortality. Brooks was joined by Patricia Brantingham, Perinatal Network Executive Director, to officially sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the County and the Network.
“Monroe County has been proud to work collaboratively in many ways to address infant mortality on a local level, and I’m pleased our new partnership with the Perinatal Network will do even more to address this heartbreaking issue moving forward,” said Brooks. “In addition to our Nurse Family Partnership program, our Building Healthy Children program, and our involvement in the Baby Safe Sleep Coalition, I’m confident this new agreement will be an important complement to the County’s existing efforts. I thank the Perinatal Network and the bi-partisan support of the County Legislature for making this partnership possible.”
Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, which received the unanimous bi-partisan support of the County Legislature, the Monroe County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) will partner with the Perinatal Network to develop a data analysis model to study infant mortality. The model will assist the MCDPH in effectively and efficiently analyzing data pertaining to infant mortality that is available from the New York State Department of Public Health and local sources. After analysis, MCDPH will develop a series of recommended actions in hopes of better addressing, understanding, and preventing infant mortality.
Infant mortality remains an issue in Monroe County, especially in the City of Rochester and amongst minority communities. While the infant mortality rate in Monroe County is 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births among whites, it is 14.2 for African Americans and 11.7 for Latinos. Furthermore, although the infant mortality rate in non-urban Monroe County stands at 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, the rate is 11.7 in the City alone.
“This is truly a great step for the health of all families in our county,” said Andrews. “Residents should be pleased that all sides were able to come to agreement on this important proposal to help better understand the causes and possible preventive actions related to this enduring problem. By digging deeper into the infant mortality data, especially as it relates to infants less than one month old, we all hope to continuously improve our efforts, learn more about the infant mortality rate’s vast racial disparities and complement the good work our county already does in this area.”
“On behalf of the entire Majority Caucus, I am proud that we were able to help establish this important bi-partisan agreement to address infant mortality in our community,” said Tucciarello. “This effort speaks to the real progress that can be made at all levels of government when leaders work together. It is my hope that all legislators will carry forward this spirit of collaboration on other issues as well.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. Infant mortality is typically divided into two periods – neonatal, which covers birth through the child’s first 27 days, and postnatal, which covers 28 days through one year of age. Because approximately two thirds of all infant deaths occur in the neonatal period, neonatal infant mortality will be a primary focus of study under the new agreement.
“This agreement builds on the long-standing partnership between the Perinatal Network and the Monroe County Department of Public Health and establishes infant mortality as a key public health priority for the community. The work we will do together will drill more deeply into the data than we have ever been able to do before,” said Brantingham. “While we understand infant mortality in broad strokes, we do not have the data at a level sufficiently granular to tell us how to target our prevention efforts most effectively. We expect that the community assessment will point the way to improvements in services, in institutional practices, even in public policy. Very few communities in the United States have conducted such a rigorous assessment; we are proud that once again Monroe County will demonstrate its leadership in public health.”
Monroe County has aggressively sought to address infant mortality through its Nurse Family Partnership program, its Building Healthy Children Program, and its involvement in the Baby Safe Sleep Coalition and other community collaborative efforts. In 2012, Monroe County partnered with Xerox to distribute materials covering safe sleep practices with every new birth certificate issued in our community, an effort that has already made direct contact with over 10,000 new parents to-date.
The Memorandum of Understanding between Monroe County and the Perinatal Network is effective immediately. Upon completion of the project, a final report will be issued to the Monroe County Legislature detailing any findings.