Data Reveals Racial and Ethnic Disparities—and Provides Hope—for Infant Mortality

Recently, Resultant’s Amrutha Wheeler was a panel member in the first session of the Milk Bank’s Making Milestones: A Series on Saving Infant Lives. Wheeler, Data Science Team Lead at Resultant, was joined by Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner; Dr. Karen Amstutz, Vice President of Community Health, IU Health; and Freedom Kolb, Executive Director of The Milk Bank. 

Data makes connections 

Wheeler was on the front lines of Resultant’s work with IU Health using data to decrease infant mortality, which produced numerous insights including where social, economic, and ethnic disparities exist. Medical science has made great progress improving length and quality of life among all demographics, but in recent years it has leveled off; noticeably so in addressing infant mortality. This is where data analysis can help health care providers and policymakers really make a difference by targeting and optimizing programs to effect changes.  

The Milk Bank, a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, is running this series as a springboard for exchanging information, ideas, and conversations among agencies, organizations, and people who work with new mothers and mothers-to-be. 

Data and discussions across agencies can reveal more than just health statistics; it can bring to light social and other factors affecting well-being that are significant, but often overlooked. 

Where to target help 

Infant mortality has complex, layered causes, but lack of early and consistent prenatal care, preterm delivery, and hypertension are three of the top contributing factors. Health risks of mothers contribute greatly—especially smoking, diabetes, and obesity. When statistics are examined by race and ethnicity, significant disparities emerge. The fact that racial and ethnic, as well as economic disparities, exist gives us more information about where and how to target education, programs, and assistance. 

Moving towards solutions 

Forward-thinking government leaders take responsibility for creating outcomes and seek a wider view to create lasting impact. Dr. Box is one of those leaders who understands that collaboration across agencies can help reach citizens where they’ll receive help and information positively and incorporate it into their daily lives—which is the only way to create change that sticks. 

Watch session one of Making Milestones: A Series on Saving Infant Lives here