Infant mortality rates remain high on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

In Harrison County, nearly 8.2 out of every 1,000 babies born don’t make it to their first birthday. That’s compared to the national rate of 5.7.

Infant mortality rates remain high on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Maygan Rocco can’t wait to welcome her new bundle of joy into the world.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “This one’s very special.”

Before this pregnancy, Rocco had two miscarriages.

“It’s not something that you get over easy, especially whenever you’re pregnant again,” she said. “You have to worry about if it’s okay, if the pregnancy’s healthy.”

Healthy pregnancies and births are part of the mission at Coastal Family Health because infant mortality rates are high in Harrison County, where nearly 8.2 out of every 1,000 babies born don’t make it to their first birthday. That’s compared to the national rate of 5.7.

“Unfortunately, due to our high rates of other comorbid conditions like hypertension and diabetes, a lot of times these things carry over into pregnancies and that, along with things like late initiation of prenatal care, helps contribute unfortunately to increased complications with pregnancy, including mortality and morbidity rates in infants,” said Jada Vierling Hill.

Hill is a women’s health nurse practitioner at Coastal Family Health. She says the clinic staff does its best to make sure babies see their first birthday by educating mothers, sometimes before they even conceive. And, in underserved and disadvantaged populations, Hill says that education is important because they often see higher infant mortality rates.

“A lot of times, the patients just don’t have the access financially or transportation complications or just the intellectual ability to know that we need to do simple things like get ourselves healthy, start a prenatal vitamin, and get into good care early,” said Hill.

Rocco says she’s doing what she can to make sure her baby has the best chance at life.

“Watching what I eat and drinking lots of fluids, juices and water, just trying to stay off my feet, too,” she said.

Coastal Family Health also offers a Baby and Me Tobacco Free Program to encourage expectant mothers to stop smoking.

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