Pence: Indiana's infant mortality rate 'deplorable'

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Gov. Mike Pence told about 500 people attending Indiana's first statewide summit on its high infant mortality rate that the state's death rate among its youngest citizens is "deplorable."

Indiana's infant mortality rate was 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011, giving it the nation's 6th-highest such rate. The national rate that year was 6.05 deaths per 1,000 births.

Pence challenged health care experts, community leaders and others attending the summit to "think fresh" about how Indiana can reduce deaths in children's first year of life.

State health commissioner Dr. William VanNess says Indiana's infant mortality rate has fallen below seven deaths per 1,000 births only once during the 132 years such records have been kept. He says Indiana's high obesity and smoking rates contribute to infant deaths.

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