Infant mortality – the death of a baby before his or her first birthday – is a serious issue in the United States. How serious? According to the Centers for Disease Control, close to 25,000 infants – a stadium full – die each year before their birthday.
- Birth defects
- Preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birthweight
- Maternal complications of pregnancy
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Together, these causal factors accounted for nearly 60 percent of all infant deaths in the last year. So, clearly, it’s an issue that warrants rigorous attention, because even in 2016, the loss of a baby remains a sad reality for many parents and takes a serious toll on the physical and emotional health and well-being of families.
As part of that, September has been declared National Infant Mortality Month, a time to shine a public and persuasive spotlight on the issue and to activate people to take some kind of action to reduce infant mortality and give every baby a better chance at life. Additionally, the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) has developed a campaign, Celebrate Day 366 … Every Baby Deserves a Chance, to celebrate babies living beyond the first year of life.
The celebration recognizes the significance of U.S. infants living beyond their first birthdays and promotes the effectiveness of ongoing programs and efforts aimed at reducing infant deaths, low-birth weight, pre-term births and disparities in perinatal outcomes.
The goal is to ensure every child has the chance:
- To take their first step.
- To say their first word.
- To graduate from college.
- To become President.
- To Celebrate Day 366.
Good health is the single greatest predictor of a healthy baby, things such as good preconception health and care, taking folic acid, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, stopping tobacco and alcohol use, as well as avoiding drugs.
But there are other things we can do, including encouraging lawmakers, policymakers and influencers to support their local infant mortality awareness project, program or coalition – programs such as the Family & Children’s Place HANDS program.
HANDS couples Family Support Workers with new parents to provide tools and techniques they can use before and after their child’s birth to help manage stress and demands, and activities and resources to ensure the baby’s healthy and happy development.
By being aware, working together and supporting and promoting programs that contribute to better beginnings for babies, we can help even more of them Celebrate Day 366. Join us as we support the babies.