In 2008, Illinois' infant mortality rate was 7.2 deaths for every 1,000 live births, an increase from the lowest rate ever reported in Illinois, 6.6/1000 live births in 2007.
Many factors contribute to the state's infant mortality rate. Medical and pharmacological treatments are available for the conditions that used to take the lives of infants who were born prematurely. Illinois maintains one of the best systems of hospital-based perinatal care services in the nation. Illinois' success in maternal and child health services is due in part to the Department of Human Services' ongoing collaborative efforts with both the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IDHFS).
Consecutive annual evaluations of infant mortality demonstrate that participation in both the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Family Case Management (FCM) program during pregnancy substantially improves infant health. This improvement contributes an estimated annual savings of approximately $200 million in Medicaid expenditures for care required during the first year of life. Additional savings from avoided special education, disability and rehabilitation costs potentially accrue over a lifetime.
While Illinois has made steady progress in the reduction of infant mortality, a significant disparity in infant mortality rates persists between African American and Caucasian infants. An African American infant born in Illinois during 2008 was 2.4 times more likely than a Caucasian infant to die before reaching its first birthday. This disparity has persisted for many years and must no longer be accepted. The IDHS has made the reduction of racial disparities in health status a top priority, especially among society's most vulnerable members.