Posts Tagged ‘infant death’

Infant mortality. These two words should never go together.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

emotional couple sittingInfancy should mark the beginning of life, not the end. Even though the rates of infant deaths are at an all-time low, far too many babies still die before their first birthday. For this reason, September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month – a time for us to share the sad fact that babies still die in infancy, and to help spread the word about how to fix this problem.

In 2013, in the United States, 23,446 infants died before reaching their first birthday, which is an infant mortality rate of 6.0 per 1,000 live births. Or, put another way, on an average day in the U.S., 64 babies die before reaching their first birthday.

What causes infant death? Can it be prevented?

“Preterm birth, or being born too early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), is the biggest contributor to infant death,” according to the CDC. In 2013, about one third (36%) of infant deaths were due to preterm-related causes. Among non-Hispanic black infants, the rate of preterm-related death is three times higher than those of non-Hispanic white infants.

Other causes of infant mortality include low birth weight, birth defects, pregnancy complications for the mother, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and unintentional injuries (accidents). Although the rate of infant deaths in the U.S. has declined by almost 12% since 2003, the death of any infant is still one too many.

Having a healthy pregnancy may increase the chance of having a healthy baby.

A woman can help reduce her risk of giving birth early by getting a preconception checkup, staying at a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and street drugs during pregnancy. Spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart and getting early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy are also key parts of a healthy pregnancy.

It’s part of our mission

The March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story, will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand.

Even in the year 2016, “the U.S. has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the industrialized world,” according to NICHQ, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.

The March of Dimes is working hard to make this fact history.

Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

cropped sleeping babyEvery so often, we hear a tragic story from a new parent. Last week, a three week old baby died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This post is in memory of that baby, and our hearts go out to the family.

It is important for parents and caregivers to know safe sleep strategies. Please help us get the word out: ALWAYS, put your baby to sleep on her back, in a crib without bumpers, blankets, stuffed toys or loose bedding.

Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play is an easy way to remember that all healthy babies should be put to sleep on their backs every time until their first birthday. Do not put your baby to sleep on her side, either. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month, but always start them out going to sleep on their backs. You can give your baby tummy time to help strengthen her back muscles when she is awake and you are watching her.

About 3,500 infants (less than one year of age) die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States, according to the CDC. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old. We don’t know what causes SIDS, but certain things can put babies at higher risk:

  • Bed sharing – do not sleep in the same bed as your baby. Sleeping in the same room is suggested, just not the same bed. Bed sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in babies under 4 months of age.
  • Sofa or couch sleeping – do not let your baby sleep on the couch or soft surfaces, including pillows. Nearly 13 percent of infant sleeping deaths are sofa-related.
  • Wearing too many clothes or sleeping in a room that is too hot.
  • Sleeping on her tummy or side.

Read more about safe sleep, mom and baby care and other tips for reducing the risk of SIDS.

If you have questions about putting your baby to sleep, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org or ask your baby’s health care provider.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby due to SIDS or an unknown reason, the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center offers bereavement packets to families. Just email us with your mailing address and we will send one to you.

See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.

 

Updated Sept. 2015

Chat on loss

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Losing a baby is something that no one wants to experience but, sadly, many of us have.  Sometimes it helps to connect with others who have been down this same road.

Join us @modhealthtalk tonight, Nov. 1st, at 9 PM ET.  Michelle Williams and many others will be with us. Share your experience and offer thoughts on what helps in handling grief, on living with loss, on moving forward. Be sure to use #losschat to fully participate.

U.S. infant mortality rate down

Friday, May 18th, 2012

graph-going-downMore than 1,000 fewer babies died before celebrating their first birthday between 2007 and 2008, and many of them had the benefit of a full-term pregnancy, according to data just released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The United States infant mortality rate declined 2 percent from 2007 to 2008. The rate dropped to 6.61 from 6.75 deaths for every 1,000 live births. The NCHS report found that all of this decrease in the infant mortality rate can be accounted for by a decrease in preterm births. While infant mortality rates were relatively unchanged between 2000 and 2005, this recent improvement represents a 4 percent decline in infant mortality since 2000 and a 13 percent decline since 1995.

“This data conclusively demonstrates that preventing premature birth saves lives,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse president of the March of Dimes. “But 28,000 babies still did not live to see their first birthday. No parent should ever have to experience the pain of losing a child from prematurity, or from any other cause.”

The U.S. preterm birth rate peaked in 2006 at 12.8 percent. It has dropped for four consecutive years to just less than 12 percent in 2010. Much of this improvement can be attributed to a decline in the rate of infants born just a few weeks early, which may be linked to better hospital practices that discourage elective early deliveries that can result in premature births.

The new NCHS statistics show that the earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk of death, but Dr. Howse says it’s important to note that even babies born just a few weeks early — between 34 and 36 weeks gestation — have a death rate three times as high as babies born at full term. In 2008, nearly two-thirds of all infant deaths occurred in the first month of life, and two-thirds of all infant deaths were preterm babies, according to the NCHS.

The March of Dimes has set a goal of lowering the national preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent of all births by 2020. This goal can be achieved by a combination of activities, including: giving all women of childbearing age access to healthcare coverage and preconception and prenatal care; fully implementing proven interventions to reduce the risk of an early birth, such as not smoking during pregnancy, progesterone treatments for women as appropriate, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments, avoiding elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless medically necessary; and by funding new research into prevention of preterm birth.

A light on infant mortality

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Did you know that the U.S. rate of infant death is worse than 28 other nations? Learn more by watching our video.

Breastfeeding – protection against SIDS

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

breastfeeding37468747_thmA new study just published in the journal Pediatrics reports that breastfeeding your baby is protective against SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. The study states that breastfeeding’s protective benefits apply regardless of the extent and length of time a baby is breastfed, although the longer the time the greater the benefit.

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year old. It is particularly worrying because it can occur without warning in a baby who seems healthy. While most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old, it is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year old.

Dr. Fern Hauck and her colleagues from the University of VA School of Medicine reviewed over 280 studies of breastfeeding and SIDS that had been conducted over a 43 year period of time.  They focused on 18 studies that met their specific criteria. Their analysis showed that breastfeeding is protective against SIDS, and this effect is stronger when babies are exclusively breastfed.  Infants who had received any breastmilk for any amount of time had their risk factor reduced by 60 percent. If the infants had been breastfed up to the age of two months or older, their risk was 62% lower. In infants who had been exclusively fed breastmilk, the researchers saw the greatest reduction – their risk was 73% lower.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed only breast milk (no water, formula, other liquids or solids) for about the first 6 months of life. Women should continue to breastfeed their babies for the next six months while solid foods are introduced. They can continue breastfeeding after 12 months as long as mother and baby desire.

You can read more about reducing the risk of SIDS at this link.

New funding for preterm birth research

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

researchThe March of Dimes has committed another $2.6 million to support the work of six scientists for the next three years as they study the causes of preterm birth. The 2010 grants bring the six-year total of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Initiative grant program to more than $15 million.

Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant death in the United States, and babies who survive face serious lifelong health problems.  More than 543,000 babies are born too soon each year, and the nation’s premature birth rate has increased 36 percent since the early 1980s.  Worldwide, about 13 million babies are born prematurely each year.

Scientists seeking answers to the complex problem of premature birth will explore whether stimulation of estrogen receptors triggers preterm labor, study how genetics and the environment interact to cause preterm birth, and investigate whether vitamin D can suppress factors that make some women more likely to give birth too soon, all with the financial support of the March of Dimes.