New center focuses on infant mortality

In Community Health, KUSM-Wichita by admin

A new center at KU School of Medicine-Wichita will focus on the difficult issue of infant mortality, building upon work done through the MSSC-sponsored Maternal Infant Health Coalition and Safe Sleep Task Force.

Cari Schmidt, director of research in KUSM-Wichita’s Department of Pediatrics, is director of the Center for Research on Infant Birth and Survival (CRIBS). MSSC member Dr. Stephanie Kuhlmann, pediatrics hospitalist and associate professor in the department, is director of implementation, a role intended to “turn research into action.”

The statewide center’s goals include conducting research and disseminating best practices to others working in infant mortality and related fields, such as safe sleep. Schmidt said efforts statewide have been fragmented and the good work occurring is often isolated. The center hopes to bring researchers, individuals and organizations together and increase the impact of their efforts.

CRIBS is putting together a board of directors and seeking grants. Its first major goal is organizing a summit next spring or early summer. Input gained there will help guide initial areas of emphasis and identify groups and individuals interested in collaborating.

Schmidt and Dr. Kuhlmann have worked with the MIHC and Safe Sleep Task Force. The Kansas Infant Death & SIDS Network participates in both, and a KIDS Network’s fund-raiser, the Haley’s SIDS Scramble golf tournament, will help launch CRIBS. The center will receive a portion of the proceeds from the Aug. 28 scramble (see kidsks.org to sign up, learn more). KU Wichita Pediatrics is presenting sponsor of the scramble.

Schmidt, KIDS Network Executive Director Christy Schunn, Dr. Kuhlmann and Dr. Zachary Kuhlmann have worked extensively on safe sleep issues, including toolkits for doctors’ offices and safe sleep instructor training. The experiences led them to want to broaden their focus to infant mortality as a whole.

“We all recognize that you have to hit maternal and infant health from several angles and you need a very wide approach with a broad, collaborative model,” Dr. Stephanie Kuhlmann said. “With the center, we hope to tie together resources and be more impactful.”