Posts Tagged ‘ infant mortality ’

Learning to Count Dead Babies

Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, Director, Birthing Project USA: The Underground Railroad for New Life, answers, “Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness around infant mortality?”

DeAndre lived ten days, and in his birth, short life and death…he taught me that Infant Mortality Rate means “counting dead babies”.  During the last century, the US counted more dead babies than all the soldiers we lost in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. DeAndre also taught me that each life brings the gift of knowledge. If we pay attention, we can learn something. In his case, along with the reality of death, he taught me that even though he was another woman’s child…he was also my child and the child of every woman and man who have a sense of community and accountability to our ancestors and to our “yet to be born”.

As we remember the little ones who came and left us so quickly, I light a candle of remembrance that flickers with hope.  We do not have all the answers to keep them here as long as we would like but I believe that, as we raise awareness and take action by surrounding young parents with care, information, guidance and support, our babies have a better chance of being born as healthy as possible to parents who are prepared to love and care for them.

View our Pilgramadge  to BabyLand at Birthing Project USA You Tube Channel

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/BirthingProjectUSA

Saving Babies

Elizabeth Perry, Executive Assistant/Communications Associate for NHSA, on how she learned about infant mortality.

In D.C., the first question after you’re introduced to a new person is, “And what do you do?” The standard answer is the name of your company, what the company does and your role in the company….which results in a glazed looking head-bob from the questioner. Since I began at NHSA, I’ve had a simpler and more direct response, “I save babies.”

I didn’t set out in this job to save babies. That may sound funny, since I obviously knew where I was working, but it’s absolute truth. You see, I’m the only staff member WITHOUT a background in MCH. In fact, I couldn’t have told you what MCH stood for on my first day. (It’s Maternal and Child Health, for those stumbling blindly across this blog.) My background in women’s health focused on women, but I didn’t know much about infants and pregnancy. I learned, and I learned quickly.

I began reading about the work of Healthy Start, and the incredibly tragic need for more of the work. How could so many babies be dying before the age of one? While I’ve never experienced pregnancy, I’ve sympathized deeply with friends who have miscarried. I’ve seen the loss and the grieving they’ve done for a child they never held. As I read more about the infant mortality rates in this country and around the world, I couldn’t imagine the depth of loss experienced by those who’ve given birth and lost their child.

Working at NHSA has been my introduction into the tragedy that is the IMR in this country. I’ve learned about babies dying in alarming numbers, and I’ve learned that babies of color die much more often than white babies. I’ve been horrified by the statistics and moved by the stories I’ve heard from women and men who persevere in making their families healthier.

I’m not a case worker or nurse or family therapist; these skills are outside of my abilities. But I do have skills. We all do. I choose every day to use my skills to spread awareness about the epidemic that is infant mortality in this country and to advocate on behalf of those working in the field. I choose to spread the word about infant mortality, because if babies are dying, we should be doing something to stop it.

I urge you to use your skills or your voice to spread the message that infant mortality is real in this country; babies are dying, and we MUST do more to educate people. If you pass the message on, when someone asks what you do, you can say, “I save babies” too.

Let’s make sure more babies blow out their 1st candle

Phyllis George, NHSA Senior Program Manager, answers the question, “Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness around infant mortality?”

I learned early in life how devastating the effects of infant mortality can have on families. My parents are from Sierra Leone in west Africa, and many aunts and cousins growing up never got a chance to celebrate the 1st birthdays of their children. Over the years, the number of maternal and infant deaths has decreased, but Sierra Leone still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Who would have thought that years later I would be working to help bring awareness to the issue in a nation where a woman does not have to walk for miles to receive prenatal care? It amazes me the wealth of resources that are available to people in the United States; yet we only rank 31st  in infant mortality rates among industrialized countries.

I believe that the main factor that contributes to the alarming infant mortality rates in the U.S. is lack of education and awareness about the issue. Other factors such as race and socio-economic status play a part, but many people, even those with a background in public health, are not aware of how to improve their chances of a successful pregnancy. I have yet to experience the privilege of being a mother, but if I wasn’t in the field of maternal and child health, would I know this information and ensure that my unborn child had the best start in life possible? Would I, after having my child, understand how to make sure that life flourishes beyond year one? I honestly do not know.

Health providers, community workers, churches, hair salons, friends, family members…these are the people that those who are most at risk of experiencing an infant death come in contact with on a regular basis. We all need to help in this fight and increase infant mortality awareness. Other countries should use us as an example and follow our lead on ensuring that the families in their communities are healthy. September is when we can begin to open up dialogue on this topic to families who do not know or congressmen who are not aware of the deplorable infant mortality rates in their cities, but let’s continue to spread the message throughout the year. Be the voice for the countless babies who did not live to blow out their first candle.

Why is it important to raise awareness about infant mortality?

Today marks the first day of September, the first day that reminds us Fall is near, and the first day of a month where we pay special attention to an issue plaguing our so many communities in this country. Today we start our 30 days of awareness, but also 30 days of celebration for those babies who are turning 1 year old, 2 years old, 3 years old and on.

As we begin the month, I can’t help but recall a recent conversation I had with a young woman from a Louisiana newspaper. She was calling to confirm the black infant mortality rate for New Orleans because “it seems extremely high,” she says. I informed her that while I didn’t have the statistic directly in front of me, that it sounded pretty accurate. She also said her editor asked her to confirm the statistics because he said “if they are really that high, then we have an epidemic on our hands.”   I wanted to scream “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?? OF COURSE WE HAVE AN EPIDEMIC!” I was in awe and frightened that people who I thought should know, have no idea that babies are dying at such alarming rates in their very own backyard. I shook my head in disbelief, as I thought about all of the work we have all done to educate and inform communities about infant mortality. I realized we still have a lot of educating to do.

We not only have to educate our soon-to-be mothers and fathers, families, health professionals, non-profit and community based organizations but also that person you are sitting next to on the train or standing behind in line at the grocery store. We must inform everyone we come in contact with to make sure they truly understand how this issue also affects them. Many people are not aware that the infant mortality rate often serves as an indicator of a nation’s health. If our rate is ranked 31st among other industrialized countries, what does that say about the health of the United States? What does that say about the health of our population? To me, it says that we need to get to work on helping people better understand how everything impacts their health and the health of their children. What they eat, where they live, the life experiences they have and the resources and services they have access to, all ultimately have an impact on their health. It is important that we raise awareness about infant mortality to the corporations who sell packaged food, the developers who build homes, the mental health professionals who treat stressed people and so many others who we may not otherwise think have an impact on our health, but do. We have some hard work ahead of us this month, but knowing we will save the life of a baby, makes it all worth it.

Throughout the entire month, NHSA will use this blog to hear from many of our community and national leaders in the maternal and child health field, asking them the question “Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness around infant mortality?” I know I will enjoy reading their responses and hope you will follow the blog this month to hear what they have to say. We encourage you to join NHSA this September in our efforts to increase awareness and spread the word about infant mortality. We also encourage you to spread the word about infant mortality in your community. We have great tools on our website to help you learn more about the issue. We believe that collectively, we can help save the lives of millions of babies in this country. Help us make sure every baby reaches their first birthday, their second birthday, the fifteenth birthday and their thirtieth birthday!

March of Dimes Kicks Off Prematurity Awareness Month

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day! This year the March of Dimes celebrates their 8th annual Prematurity Awareness Month.  And to kick off today, they released the 3rd annual Report Card on Preterm Birth Rates. This report gives the United States an overall grade and compares all 50 states and Puerto Rico’s rankings from last year to this year. Report Cards are based upon many health indicators which include preterm birth (percentage of births before 37 weeks), late preterm birth (percentage of births between 34 and 36 weeks), uninsured women, and women who smoke. The “grades” on each Report Card range from A-F with A being a preterm birth rate of less than or equal to 7.6 percent and an F being a preterm birth rate of greater than or equal to 13.2 percent.

To view the full report please visit:
March of Dimes 2010 Premature Birth Report Card

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin appeared today alongside March of Dimes President, Dr. Jennifer Howse, at an event in Washington DC. Dr. Benjamin will also appear in a Public Service Announcement which was shown at today’s event.

To view the PSA please visit:
Surgeon General PSA 60sec (View Windows Media Video)
Surgeon General PSA 30sec (View Windows Media Video)

Each year over half a million babies are born preterm and do not make it to their first birthday. Across the country today, March of Dimes volunteers and staff will be holding candlelight vigils to raise awareness and bring attention to the continuing problem of premature birth.

For local events or for more information on how to get involved please visit:
March of Dimes Local Chapters

The Knowledge Path MCH Resource Library’s Latest Edition: Infant Mortality and Pregnancy Loss

The Georgetown University Maternal and Child Health Library has just released a new edition of the knowledge path. The knowledge path was made for health professionals, policymakers, researchers, and families as a guide for people to find resources on data analysis, research reports, and program descriptions around one MCH topic. The newest edition of the Knowledge Path is all about Infant Mortality and Pregnancy Loss. In this edition, readers can find resources to intervention strategies, attempts at lowering risk, bereavement support groups, and research on finding out the causes of infant mortality and pregnancy loss. Other sections feature resources on factors that contribute to infant mortality and pregnancy loss like birth defects, injuries, low birthweight and prematurity, and ways to lower the risk of infant mortality and pregnancy loss like preconception care, pregnancy and safe sleep environments.

To view the Knowledge Path online click http://www.mchlibrary.info/KnowledgePaths/kp_infmort.html.

A resource brief for families accompanies the Knowledge Path and is available at http://www.mchlibrary.info/families/frb_infmort.html.

The Maternal and Child Health Library provides access to current, accurate information from a full range of MCH topics. The library offers a variety of electronic resources including the MCH Alert, resource guides, databases, and other materials specifically developed for professionals and families. To view the library online, go to http://mchlibrary.info.

MCH Alert is a weekly electronic newsletter that offers the latest references to research, policy developments, recently released publications, new programs, and initiatives affecting the MCH community. To view and subscribe to MCH Alert, you can visit http://www.mchlibrary.info/alert/index.html.

NHSA Kicks off National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Yesterday marked the first day of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month in the U.S. To commemorate the month, the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) has launched its campaign, Celebrate Day 366…Every Baby Deserves a Chance to promote national awareness around this very critical issue.

Infant mortality refers to the number of infant deaths before the age of one and Celebrate Day 366 is a campaign to increase the public’s awareness about the issue. The campaign is an example of NHSA’s commitment to increasing the number of babies who will live beyond their first birthday. The organization is dedicated to ensuring that the nation’s most vulnerable women and families are receiving high quality services and resources for healthy pregnancies and healthy births. Infant Mortality Awareness Month is a key time to also raise public awareness about the one million babies who die each year because they are born prematurely.

Toward the end of the month, NHSA will host a briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss priorities for action in the public and private sectors that address reducing infant mortality rates and strategies to ensure that every baby has a healthy start. NHSA will inform policymakers, staffers, and the general public about the pressing need for community-based programs to reduce infant mortality, low birth-weight, and racial disparities in perinatal outcomes. Invited to provide remarks at the Congressional Briefing are U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN); Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Garth Graham, M.D.; Executive Director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, Judy Meehan; and President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, Roland Warren.

Throughout September, we will use the blog to share information, resources, and activities related to infant mortality and prematurity.You’ll also see a calendar of activities on the NHSA Celebrate Day 366 web page, as well as campaign resources and an updated Toolkit.

Join NHSA this month in its efforts to increase awareness and spread the word about infant mortality. Collectively, we can help save the lives of millions of babies in this country. Help us make sure every baby reaches their first birthday!