(The Center Square) — Georgia’s infant mortality rate may be improving, but it remains among the worst.
“The infant mortality rate in Georgia is not good,” Seema Csukas, vice president & chief medical officer at CareSource Georgia, told The Center Square. “We’re typically in the bottom quartile of states in terms of the infant mortality rate. We’ve made a little progress over the past decade, but not really. We’ve gotten a little better, then gotten a little worse — so not that much change.
“When you think about the causes of infant mortality, more than half are related to prematurity,” Csukas added. “So that takes us into the realm of if they’re premature, and that’s the major factor, how are we addressing maternal health. So, thinking about the health of the mom before she gets pregnant and also throughout the pregnancy, the healthier her pregnancy, the more likely you’re going to have a healthy infant. So that would be the number one factor.”
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infants who die before their first birthday. In 2022, Georgia reported a rate of more than 8.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
“The higher rates of infant mortality in Georgia, on the surface, are caused by socio-political issues,” Sarah M. Worthy, CEO and founder of DoorSpace, told The Center Square in an email. “But when we look at this problem systemically, we see it’s really another prime example of how politicians and healthcare executives are stripping away autonomy from our clinical talent.
“Politicians need to be listening to the recommendations for maternal and infant healthcare from those who understand it best: doctors and nurses,” Worthy added. “Instead, they are listening to insurance and pharma lobbyists. This failure to listen to the experts in healthcare is one of the reasons clinicians are quitting the industry.”
Katie Chubb, who, with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation, has been fighting the state’s certificate of need mandate on behalf of her business, the Augusta Birthing Center, believes repealing CON could help reduce infant mortality.
“While efforts to improve rural medicine are commendable, there’s a concerning oversight in our ability to provide adequate care for women and babies in developed counties,” Chubb told The Center Square in an email. “The challenges in these counties persist, and juxtaposed against the already existing difficulties in rural areas, the gap in healthcare becomes even more evident.”
“However, if developed counties are struggling, it highlights the magnitude of the task ahead for rural settings that are still laying their foundational healthcare systems,” Chubb added. “The focus should be equally distributed to ensure safety for all mothers and babies, regardless of their location.”