ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Centers for Disease Control reported an increase in infant mortality over the past year, the highest in two decades.

Dr. Ryan McAdams a neonatologist at UW Health spoke about the questions surfacing when seeing this headline.

“With each area that was significant, say like, why was that the case? And then also look at things where maybe they got a little bit better, they didn’t change.” Dr. McAdams said.

In 2022 there were 5.6 infant deaths for 1,000 live births. That is 3 percent higher than the rate in 2021. Dr. McAdams calls this concerning especially since America puts more money into health care than any other country.

Look at the numbers like where is this occurring, And if there are these associations, that’s also an area where there’s been a lot of staffing shortages or a lot more turnover and you don’t just assume then that that’s causative” Dr. McAdams said. “However, it gives you a lead point to look into further to say like, well, maybe that could explain this and we should look at that a little differently.”

American Indian/ Alaskan Native women saw the highest rate increase of just under 7.5%, its now more than 9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2022. Babies of women ages 25 to 29 was another group that saw a significant increase year to year. Outside of demographics, many experts blame things like maternity care deserts, disparities with health care, or lack of staffing as other factors.

“It’s a complicated issue. But because it’s complicated, it doesn’t mean we don’t address it. Right. I mean, that’s like you can throw your hands up in the air. This is multifactorial. It’s too complicated. I think what this says is now dig deeper, understand the data, ask more questions, figure out why, and then what would be what are the low hanging fruits to address those things.”

Dr. McAdams says that it is important to bring awareness to this issue. Let parents who lost their babies know they aren’t alone, and many times it wasn’t their fault at all.