Executive Summary

The Reduction of Infant Mortality in Illinois

The Family Case Management Program and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

This annual report is presented in compliance with the provisions of the Illinois Family Case Management Act, found at 410 ILCS 212, the purpose of which is to "provide for the establishment and recognition of a program of family case management to ensure and provide statewide wrap-around services targeted toward reducing the incidence of infant mortality, very low birth weight infants, and low birth weight infants within the state."

Illinois' infant mortality rate for 2005 (the latest year available) was 7.2 deaths for every 1,000 live births, the lowest rate in the state's history. The absolute number of infant deaths-1,294-occurring in 2005 is the lowest recorded.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is helping to reduce the state's infant mortality rate through the integrated delivery of two programs - the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Family Case Management (FCM). These programs serve almost 47 percent of all infants and nearly 85 percent of the Medicaid-eligible infants born in Illinois. The Department supplements these statewide programs with targeted initiatives for women whose chances of giving birth prematurely are greater than average and for infants who have a greater-than-average chance of dying before their first birthday.

Program Success - The Department monitors the performance of the WIC and FCM programs on several short-term health status indicators. At the end of Fiscal Year 2008, performance on each indicator was --

  • the proportion of WIC-eligible children with health insurance was 95.7 percent;
  • the proportion of fully-immunized one-year-olds in WIC was 84.2 percent;
  • the proportion of fully-immunized two-year-olds in WIC was 77.9 percent;
  • the proportion of WIC infants who are breastfed was 66.1 percent;
  • the proportion of infants in WIC who were breastfed through six months was 25.9 percent;
  • the proportion of children in FCM who received at least 3 well-child health care visits during the first year of life was 84.2 percent; and
  • the proportion of women and infants active in either WIC or FCM are also enrolled in the other program was 92 percent.

Improved Health Status - For 10 consecutive years, infants born to Medicaid-eligible pregnant women who participated in WIC and FCM have been found to be in better health than those born to Medicaid-eligible women who did not participate in either program. The rate of very low birth weight was 60 to 70 percent lower than that among non-participants, and the rate of infant mortality was 50 to 70 percent lower.

Fiscal Savings - In addition to the significant health benefits afforded by the WIC and FCM programs, Illinois' investment in these programs saves the State an average of $200 million each year in Medicaid expenditures. Those expenses for health care in the first year of life were 30 to 50 percent lower among dual-program participants than among non-participants in 2006.