JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mississippi’s infant mortality rate is at a five-year high.

The most recent data showed at least 330 babies died before their first birthday in 2021.

Health professionals gathered at the Hilton hotel in Jackson for the Statewide Maternal Health Symposium on Thursday to address topics like postpartum depression, cardiac issues, and other problems that contribute to high mortality rates in mothers.

“It’s actually going to take probably up to six months or a year for them to develop what we’re asking them for, which is basically eight to 10 actionable items that can be implemented throughout the state. Once those actionable items have been developed by each group, what we’re going to do is actually publish that on the State Department of Health website, and that’ll be something that the entire state can use,” said Jaleen Sims, OBGYN at Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center (JHCHC). 

Attendees got a chance to share their firsthand experiences while staying in a hospital. One woman said her blood pressure skyrocketed and was then dismissed by her doctor after having her last child.

Sims said with the help of other organizations, the will be able to make positive changes for all mothers and babies in Mississippi.

“We believe that pregnancy should not be a death sentence. It is not a death sentence. Find you a provider that you feel comfortable with before you get pregnant. Find someone that you feel comfortable with, someone that listens to you,” Sims stated.