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Hotline Aims to Reduce Infant Deaths in Indiana

The Indiana State Dept. of Health has launched a new MOMS Helpline to steer new mothers to the resources they need to keep their babies healthy. (Sierra Black)
The Indiana State Dept. of Health has launched a new MOMS Helpline to steer new mothers to the resources they need to keep their babies healthy. (Sierra Black)
March 1, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - There's a renewed effort in Indiana to prevent babies from dying before their first birthday. The state has one of the highest infant-mortality rates in the country, and has been near the top of that list for years.

Now the Indiana State Department of Health's Maternal and Child Health Division (MCH) has launched the MOMS Helpline, a hotline that new moms and pregnant women can call with questions or find help when they need it.

Diana Feliciano, Helpline manager, says the goal is to keep children healthy.

"We try to connect all our callers within a network of prenatal and child healthcare services," says Feliciano. "Within their local communities, state agencies, and organizations throughout the state."

She says that means helping women find doctors, get transportation for prenatal or well baby checkups, and locate financial assistance for housing, or to buy cribs and car seats.

The "MOMS Helpline" number is toll-free, 844-MCH-MOM (844-624-6667).

The hotline also offers information about how to sign up for a variety of critical support services, from the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) programs and Medicaid, to Hoosier Healthwise, the Healthy Indiana Plan and more.

Feliciano says Indiana's goal is to prevent tragedies from happening.

"We're here to encourage and help them access the early and regular prenatal care that they need, the education; and we can also advocate on behalf of mom's and pregnant women," she says. "We offer not only information, but referrals and resources to help them get connected with the providers that they need."

The National Center for Health Statistics says just under six out of every 1,000 babies died at birth or in their first year of life in the U.S. in 2013, the most recent year statistics are available. That is triple the rate in Japan or Norway, and double the rates in Ireland, Israel or Italy.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN