Posts Tagged ‘Infant Mortality Awareness Month’

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Monday, September 10th, 2018

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. It’s a time for us to bring attention to the fact that, sadly, babies die during infancy. And it’s a time to talk about why we must take action to help fix this problem.

Infant mortality is the death of a baby before his first birthday. According to the CDC, in 2016 the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate for Non-Hispanic black was much higher at 11.4 per 1,000 live births.

These facts are alarming. March of Dimes is working hard in advocacy, education and research to level the playing field so all moms and babies are healthy.

What are the leading causes of infant mortality in the U.S.? 

  1. Birth defects
  2. Premature birth and low birthweight
  3. Sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS)
  4. Pregnancy complications
  5. Injuries (such as suffocation)

What can you do?

Not all causes of infant mortality can be prevented. But here’s what you can do to help keep your baby healthy and reduce the risk of infant death:

Before pregnancy

  • Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects. Some studies show that it also may help prevent heart defects and cleft lip and palate in your baby.
  • Get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy. At this checkup, your provider looks for health conditions that may affect your pregnancy and the health of your baby. Your provider can help you get treated for these conditions to help your baby be born healthy.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy may help prevent complications during pregnancy. Eat healthy foods and do something active every day.

During pregnancy

  • Get early and regular prenatal care. Go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. This lets your provider make sure you and your baby are healthy. She also can spot and treat any problems that you may have during pregnancy.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs. Alcohol, drugs and chemicals from smoke can pass directly through the umbilical cord to your baby. This can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, birth defects and premature birth.

After your baby’s birth

  • Make sure your baby sleeps safely. Put your baby to sleep on her back on a flat, firm surface (like a crib mattress). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you and your baby sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed, for the first year of your baby’s life, but at least for the first 6 months.
  • Wait at least 18 months after having a baby before getting pregnant again. Getting pregnant again before 18 months can increase the chance in your next pregnancy of premature birth and low birthweight. Waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies allows your body time to fully recover from your last pregnancy before it’s ready for your next pregnancy.

Take action today

You can help us lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Join March of Dimes’ advocacy network and take action now to support legislation that can help protect moms and babies.

Visit marchofdimes.org and learn more about the steps you can take to be as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy.

It’s September: let’s sound a rallying cry for preventing infant loss

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Today’s guest post on the importance of recognizing Infant Mortality Awareness month is from Kweli Rashied-Henry, Director of Health Equity for the March of Dimes.

It gets me every time – the sound of a baby crying always tugs at my heartstrings. I know it is a common expectation for moms and dads to anticipate the sound of their infant calling out to them. A baby’s cry can signal many things, a need for food, touch, comfort or for someone to take the pain away. For too many parents, that sound goes unfulfilled or is cut short because their infant has passed away. September is the month that reminds us of the importance of infant mortality and the need for more support, resources, education and awareness.

In the US, babies still die before their first birthday at shockingly high rates. Although we have made great strides over the past two decades, many babies do not get a chance to fully begin their lives, let alone thrive. Infant mortality is one factor typically used in healthcare and public health to assess how well we are doing as a society. Approximately 4 million babies are born each year in the US. The 2015 infant mortality rate was 5.9 per 1,000 live births, which is one of the highest among highly developed countries. That means that over 23,000 infants died in the United States in 2015. Premature birth and birth defects are two of the major contributors to the infant mortality rate.

Infant health advocates have long promoted several strategies to decrease preterm birth rates that can ultimately reduce infant death. Care innovation, research, health education, and policy advocacy are strategies that March of Dimes and other national leaders have used to reduce preterm birth rates. However, one of the most alarming trends that has interfered with efforts to reduce premature birth and infant mortality is the persistent racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the US.

For instance in 2015, Black women had a 48% higher chance of delivering preterm than their counterparts, and were more than twice as likely to experience infant loss. Reasons behind these differences are varied and complex. Understanding the relationship between people and the impact that social factors can have on their health is important to achieve health equity — health for everyone, regardless of their income, education or racial/ethnic background. According to the March of Dimes, evidence suggests that social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status (SES) at both individual and area/community levels (e.g., income/poverty, job status, education), as well as psychosocial factors (e.g. chronic stress, lack of social support) are associated with increased risk of adverse birth outcomes.

Our collective voices are critical to sounding the rallying cry that our babies so desperately need. Let it also include the importance of social supports that all moms and dads rely on to ensure that they are healthy in preparation for having healthy infants. September is the month to remember those babies who have passed away and to act by partnering with others to lend support for infant mortality prevention efforts. Remember a cry is a signal from a baby in need. Let our rallying cry signal the need for all babies to be born healthy, to grow and thrive.

 

 

 

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

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.

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