Injury Prevention Month provides a good opportunity to review how to stay safe during pregnancy and delivery, but we wanted to give you some more reasons to be concerned this month. In Illinois, neonatal injury rates are higher than the national average.

Shocking as it may seem, the health of newborn babies is less likely in Illinois than anywhere else in the United States. Commonly referred to as “The Land of Lincoln”, Illinois ranks 47th for infant mortality according to USA Today. We hope you feel safe and excited about your upcoming new arrival, but before you deliver your baby there’s no harm in being prepared for any danger or emergency that might arise unexpectedly during labor or delivery.

Here are some facts and stats about Illinois birth injuries to put you on notice:

1. Illinois’ maternal mortality rate is higher than the national average.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maternal mortality rates in the US have nearly tripled since 1980. Unfortunately, our state birth injury statistics makes this national trend look even worse with a rate of 12 deaths per 100,000 live births that’s over 2 times higher than the national average. While some states have been making progress in reducing maternal mortality rates, Illinois is lagging behind.

2. Illinois is one of 10 states with increased infant mortality between 2005 and 2009.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, Illinois is one of 10 states in the US with an increase in infant mortality over the past several years. According to birth injury statistics total of 8,923 babies died before their first birthday between 2005 and 2009. Experts attribute this increase in part to a rise in premature births, which make up some 44% of total infant deaths.

3. It’s harder for pregnant women in Chicago to get prenatal care than other major cities.

Prenatal care is vital for the health and wellbeing of both mother and newborn; failing to obtain proper care can lead to pre-term birth complications, low birth weight and an increased risk of neonatal injury as previously discussed. Unfortunately, it’s not easy for expectant mothers in Chicago to get the care they need. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that prenatal care was less accessible in Chicago than in other major cities across the US, including New York City and Los Angeles. The findings were based on data from a study by the CDC that measured factors like low birth weight babies and infant mortality rates among women who did not get adequate prenatal care.

4. Illinois ranks 49th in child-health outcomes overall according to a Bloomberg report.

In 2013, Bloomberg Business published their annual “America’s Health Ranking” report which lists the healthiest and unhealthiest states in America. Illinois was ranked 49th in overall child-health outcomes, a disappointing ranking for a state that has the country’s 3rd largest population. This ranking was based on data from the CDC and other government agencies, which considered factors such as the incidence of low birth weight babies, childhood obesity, student safety on the school ground and teen suicide rates.

5. Infant mortality in Chicago is 50% higher than the national average.

From 2004 to 2012, more than 882 babies died before their first birthday in Chicago. The number of deaths is even more shocking considering that only 16% of all US births take place in Illinois. These statistics are based on a recent study that utilized data from the CDC and other sources.

6. In 2010, infant mortality rates were found to be higher in Illinois than any other state in the country.

In 2010, a report published in the Journal of Medical Economics provided some insight into infant mortality rates across America by analyzing data from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System. Illinois ranked 37th overall, but stood at the head of the pack in terms of increasing maternal death during pregnancy and delivery. More than 16% of childbirth-related deaths occurred during pregnancy or delivery in Illinois, while less than 5% did nationwide from birth injury statistics..

7. Illinois has the second highest rate of infant mortality in the country.

In 2012, a report by The Trust for America’s Health put Illinois in the number two spot for infant mortality rates nationwide. It also found that among children born between 2003 and 2005, more deaths occurred during birth than among those born before 2003. Sadly, these statistics are just 2 years old and reflect an alarming trend; one that clearly must be addressed if we want to see any significant improvement in our state’s overall health rankings.

8. Neonatal death rates are higher than the national average in Illinois and across every major city in America.

It’s hard to believe when you’re expecting a new baby that anything bad could happen, but the sad truth is that childbirth complications are very real and can be life-threatening. A report from the CDC shows that neonatal mortality rates were higher than the national average in every major city in America, including Chicago. The most common causes for neonatal death were respiratory problems, complications of premature birth and low birth weight babies, which are all preventable.

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury related to childbirth during one of the most exciting times of your life, remember that you’re not alone.