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National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

September 27, 2017

The Healthy Start Program at the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) and the Healthy Start Coalition in Orange County, a collaborative partner recognizes September as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Sponsored by the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA), the intent is to promote awareness of the high infant mortality rate that exists and the need to reduce it, because every baby deserves a first birthday and beyond. 

According to the NHSA, the top five leading causes of infant mortality in the United States (over 50% of all infant deaths) are: birth defects, preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birth weight, maternal complications of pregnancy, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), injuries (e.g., suffocation). Many of these deaths are preventable. There are several risk factors that can contribute to infant mortality including: late prenatal care, being overweight, smoking, substance abuse, poor nutrition, domestic violence, and pre-term labor. 

In 2016, the Infant Mortality rate in Orange County was 7.1 per 1,000 live births and the Black Infant Mortality rate (BIMR) was 12.3 per 1,000 live births.  Unfortunately, these numbers are an increase when compared to the 2015 numbers (6.4 per 1,000 live births and 10.8 BIMR). DOH-Orange is committed to reversing these rates are through programs such as the Healthy Start Care Coordination, MomCare, Nurse Family Partnership, Women’s Health and the award winning Bellies, Babies, and Beyond. 

Prevention interventions like the above mentioned programs work to ensure normal (over 2500 grams or 5.5 pounds) birth weight and positive birth outcomes for moms, saving $59,700 per infant in medicals expenses in the infant’s first year of life. 

Social and economic disparities continue to widen the health gradient in our community.  DOH-Orange seeks to address these prevalent issues through a multifaceted approach.  DOH’s four strategies for reducing infant mortality are: emphasize the importance of eating healthy before, during and after pregnancy; promote prenatal care in the first trimester; promote safe sleep environments; and address the social determinants of health to improve the quality of life for newborns. 

Florida’s Healthy Start program is designed to improve maternal and infant health outcomes by providing universal risk screening of all Florida’s pregnant women and newborn infants to identify those at risk of poor birth, health, and developmental outcome. Local Healthy Start Coalitions mobilize community action, coordinate risk-appropriate services and referrals for pregnant women and infants at risk for poor health outcomes. 

To learn more about the Healthy Start programs and for families to participate, please call 407-254-6822.