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Infant mortality mission of group

April 11, 2019

A new organization is working to ensure more babies in Allen County live to their first birthday.

Footprints Fort Wayne, a collaborative effort of 15 local entities, seeks to lower the county’s infant mortality rate, the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births, according to a release announcing its launch Wednesday. Allen County’s rate for 2017 was 7.3, above the national rate of 5.8, the release said.

“Pregnant women and their infants are among the most vulnerable populations locally, and their health impacts the future of our whole community,” Meg Distler, executive director of the St. Joseph Community Foundation, said in a statement. “Footprints Fort Wayne provides important resources to some of the most at-risk pregnant women.”

Other partners are A Mother’s Hope, Bowen Center, BrightPoint, Chi Eta Phi, Fort Wayne UNITED, Healthier Moms and Babies, HealthVisions Fort Wayne, Healthy Families, IUFW Lafayette Street Family Health Clinic, Lutheran Health Network, Parkview Health, McMillen Health, Neighborhood Health Clinic and Wellspring.

There is value in the groups addressing infant mortality together, said Paige Wilkins, executive director of Healthier Moms and Babies. While all work with pregnant women, she said, their expertise differs.

Phyllis Bragg agreed. She is president of the local Chi Eta Phi chapter, a national organization of black nurses.

“This is bigger than one person or organization,” she said in a statement. “We all need to come together, be on the same page and deliver the same messages to the community.”

Footprints Fort Wayne is focusing on encouraging safe sleep practices, promoting early and regular prenatal care and eliminating the racial disparity associated with infant mortality, the release said. It noted black families are more than twice as likely to be affected.

The group meets regularly, and anyone is welcome to get involved, Wilkins said.

“We’re really excited about Footprints Fort Wayne,” she said.

Go to www.footprintsfortwayne.com for details. Another website, www.babieslove.org, has information for pregnant women.

asloboda@jg.net

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