The statistics on the youngest members of our population are grim.
The number of babies in Bexar County who do not celebrate their first birthday is higher than the national average. A recommitment by local health officials to address the root problems could improve survival rates.
In 2013, 140 infant deaths were recorded in our community, placing the infant mortality rate for that year at 6.09 percent, above the national average of 5.96 percent. It is but one of many disturbing statistics on pregnant moms and the babies they deliver in Bexar County.
San Antonio recently received an “F” rating from the March of Dimes for its 11.5 percent premature birth rate, which is among the highest in the country. Earlier this year, an investigation by the Express-News found that in 2014, 4 of every 10 women giving birth in Bexar County did not receive prenatal care or did not see a doctor until the second or third trimester.
The above-average infant mortality rate has prompted the Metropolitan Health District to restart the Fetal Infant Mortality Review Program, which had fallen victim to city budget cuts, Express-News Staff Writer Filipa Ioannou reported.
A similar program in Tarrant County has been a great success, the Express-News reported. In that city, the review of baby deaths between 2008 and 2012 found that unhealthy weight was a common health risk among many of the mothers. The record review found that 64 percent of the expectant moms were overweight or obese. Insufficient monitoring of medical conditions and a lack of follow-up medical visits were also found to be major problems.
Access to health care continues to be an issue for many expectant mothers. State budget cuts in 2011 undermined the health safety net. Many don’t know where to get medical care during pregnancy because they are not under a doctor’s care and have no one to advise them.
The state’s failure to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act has not helped. Many Texans find they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for federal insurance subsidies.
We applaud the Metropolitan Health District’s efforts to ensure successful pregnancies and healthy babies, but those efforts can only go so far.
Preventive health care is a key component of the bigger picture, and we need state officials to step up and do their part.