Infant mortality rates in the state of Indiana are higher than nearly almost any other state in the country, according to new data from the Indiana State Department of Health.

Shockingly, almost 8 percent of every 1,000 children born in the state of Indiana die within their first year, says State Health Commissioner Dr. William C. VanNess II.

"We said, 'We can't keep this hidden anymore,'" Dr. VanNess explained. "Indiana is horrible at infant mortality. Horrible. We are 47th out of 50 states."

VanNess’ goal is to work with health care workers and legislators in formulating a plan that would help lower Indiana’s infant mortality rate. And even though the subject is not a new issue, VanNess says that previous attempts have been unsuccessful.

"(By) 2020, I want to be the best in the nation," he said.

However, officials are quick to admit that the reasons behind Indiana’s high infant mortality rates are difficult to put their finger on. Mainly, because there are so many variables involved, said VanNess.

There is speculation that there is some connection between the state’s infant mortality rates and the overall health of pregnant mothers, especially with Indiana ranking high for obesity and smoking.