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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: April 17, 2013


WILMINGTON, DE - Delaware's infant mortality rate dropped almost 14 percent since 2000, from 9.3 deaths in 2005 to eight deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010, announced Lt. Governor Matt Denn at the summit on Maternal and Child Health in Wilmington. Denn joined Department of Health and Social Services Secretary (DHSS) Rita Landgraf, Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, and Dr. David Paul, Chair of the Delaware Healthy Mothers and Infants Consortium.

"Although Delaware has reason to celebrate in our latest health news, Delaware's rate remains higher than the national average of 6.5," Lt. Governor Denn said. "And, the persistence of disparate rates suggests that we must strive to find innovative, result-driven approaches and strategies to ensure that Delawareans achieve the same quality of healthy living regardless of ethnicity, race or other variables."

At the Consortium's eighth annual event, Lt. Governor Denn launched the "Long Live Dreams" safe sleeping campaign for infants to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). "Long Live Dreams" also strives to reduce the pronounced disparity between Delaware's white and black SIDS rates. In 2010, SIDS accounted for 12.5 percent of black infant deaths and 8.8 percent of white infant deaths.

"Long Live Dreams" contains four core practices:

"The Long Live Dreams campaign is a very important element in our strategy to ensure that all Delawareans, from our youngest to the oldest, thrive," said Rita Landgraf, DHSS Secretary. "It is the latest step in the now thirteen year commitment to reduce infant mortality in Delaware."

Landgraf also recognized the 39-week Initiative, through which the Delaware Perinatal Cooperative and birth hospitals are taking measures to eliminate elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks of gestation. Research strongly indicates that babies born three to six weeks before term have a significantly higher risk for disabilities, developmental delays or mortality than their full-term counterparts.

"Today is a celebration of many successful partnerships; including the Healthy Women, Healthy Babies program that focuses providers' attention on the health of women before, during and after pregnancy, particularly those at the highest risk of poor birth outcomes," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. "Healthy Women, Healthy Babies is built around research proving that an infant's health is affected by the health of his or her mother long before she even becomes pregnant. The program is recognized by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association for Maternal and Child Health Programs."

Dignitaries posted their aspirations for Delaware's future on a Safe Sleep Dream Wall, a traveling exhibit that engages community leaders and members to share their personal hopes and dreams for the children in their lives, and their ideas for helping to ensure that all babies thrive.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.