Monday, 17 January 2011

SIDS: Orange County's infant mortality rate lowest in 10 years

Linda Shrieves, Orlando Sentinel  January 10, 2011
The number of babies dying before their first birthday dropped in Orange County in 2009 — and the county's infant-mortality rate reached its lowest level in 10 years, according to a county task force.
"One year is not a trend, so we have to be cautious with a single year's statistics, but we are pleased with this year's indicator. Infant mortality is an important measure for the overall health of our community," said Dr. Kevin M. Sherin, director of the Orange County Health Department.
In 2009, the latest year for which data is available, the county's infant-mortality rate was 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2008, the county's infant-mortality rate was 9.1 deaths for every 1,000 live births.
Although Orange County's infant-mortality rate is usually higher than Florida's overall rate, that ratio was reversed in 2009. The state infant-mortality rate was 6.9 deaths per 1,000 births in 2009.
Infant mortality is the number of infant deaths (or babies under 1 year of age) for every 1,000 live births.
At Orange County's Healthy Start Coalition, which is dedicated to improving moms' and babies' health, executive director Linda Sutherland cheered the news.
The 2009 mortality rate, she said, translates into 94 infant deaths in 2009 compared with 150 deaths during 2008. That, say county officials, means that 56 fewer babies died than the previous year.
"Saving one baby is potential for us all," Sutherland said. "You never know what that child could have achieved."
In the U.S., infant-mortality rates are traditionally higher among black babies, who are more than twice as likely to die in their first year as other babies. In 2009, the infant-mortality rate for black babies was 12.2 per 1,000 live births. In 2008, the infant-mortality rate for black babies was 17.8 per 1,000 births.
Experts say several factors contribute to infant mortality, including: late prenatal care; and expectant mothers who are overweight, smoke, abuse drugs, eat poorly or are the victims of domestic violence. Pre-term labor and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome also are culprits.
Sutherland hopes the county's infant-mortality rate dropped because of programs her organization has instituted. For example, Save Our Babies reaches out at churches, nail salons and hair salons in the black community to educate women about maternal health, including the need for folic acid and multivitamins during pregnancy.
"We've also had a huge push on babies sleeping on their backs" to prevent SIDS, she said. And the Healthy Start Coalition has been teaching parents about the dangers of sleeping with their babies — because of an increase in the number of babies suffocated by parents who rolled onto their children in bed.,0,6195869.story

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