LABOR OF LOVE
The infant mortality rate in Indiana is 7.6 infants for every 1,000 live births – the seventh highest rate in the United States. Even more alarming: Black infants fare much worse than white babies, with a death rate twice that of white infants. While the overall infant mortality rate for black babies decreased between 1999 and 2002, rates were still far short of the Healthy People 2010 goal of 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.
In 2014, the Indiana State Department of Health contracted Hirons in an effort to raise awareness and drive behavioral changes to ensure better infant outcomes. Through research, Hirons learned that several factors put women at risk of having low-birthweight babies, who are those most likely to die before their first birthday: poor maternal health, inadequate prenatal care and smoking. Risk factors for early death after birth include lack of breastfeeding, unhealthy sleep practices and injury caused by violence or lack of “baby proofing.”
Hirons devised a statewide and wide-ranging communications plan aimed at raising awareness of Indiana’s high infant mortality rate and engendering support for education and prevention efforts. A key message of the campaign was that infant health is a community responsibility of all Hoosiers – especially those in front-line industries or first-touch positions (fathers of infants, family, partners of mothers, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals).
The Labor of Love campaign launched with multiple concepts for TV, radio, digital media and minority publications as well as a microsite, collateral material, outreach tools and government-to-business campaigns. It also involved branding for the Infant Mortality Summit scheduled for Nov. 13, 2014, in Indianapolis. While all front-line and first-touch individuals and agencies were targeted, special emphasis was placed on those most likely to experience infant deaths, such as low-income mothers, teenagers and minorities most at risk, such as African-Americans.
The campaign reached its mark. Post-campaign surveys of Indiana residents ages 14 and older were conducted in June 2015. Results showed greater awareness of healthy behaviors for pregnant women (no smoking, regular prenatal care) and regarding newborn care (importance of breastfeeding, pediatric visits, safe-sleep habits). Significantly more respondents were aware of the infant mortality problem in Indiana than prior to the campaign, and a significant number of respondents stated that the advertising had caused them to think about infant mortality in Indiana differently (talk about issue with others to increase awareness, talk to someone to help them change their behavior, make change in own behavior).