FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DUPAGE COUNTY—The DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) is joining state and federal healthcare partners during September to raise awareness of the high rate of infant mortality. September is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month and has been sponsored since 1991 by the National Healthy Start Association.
Infant mortality is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the death of an infant before his or her first birthday.
Unfortunately, over 21,000 infants died during 2018 in the United States. The loss of a baby remains a sad reality for many parents and takes a serious toll on the health and well-being of families.
Fortunately, most newborns grow and thrive. However, for every 1,000 babies born in the United States, approximately six die during their first year. This figure, six deaths for every 1,000 births, is referred to as the infant mortality rate.
“The infant mortality rate is commonly accepted as a measure of the general health and well-being of a nation because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also affect infant mortality rates,” said Karen Ayala, DCHD Executive Director.
The U.S. infant mortality rate in 2018 was 5.7, and overall Illinois ranks 14th among the 50 states with an infant mortality rate of 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. Disparities still exist; there are differences in infant mortality by age, race, and ethnicity.
The DuPage County infant mortality rate has fluctuated but remained lower than Illinois and U.S. rates over the last five years, from 5.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 3.9 in 2018. While the 2018 infant mortality rate increased slightly from 2017, it remains below the Healthy People 2020 national health goal of 6.0 set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010.
In the U.S., the five leading causes of infant death in 2018 were birth defects, preterm birth and low birth weight, maternal pregnancy complications, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and injuries (e.g., suffocation).
Improving birth outcomes requires public health agencies working together with health care providers, communities, and other partners to reduce infant mortality in the U.S. This joint approach can help address the social, behavioral, and health risk factors that contribute to infant mortality and affect birth outcomes.
The good news is we can help reduce infant mortality among babies born preterm by addressing key risk factors such as prenatal smoking that contribute to low birth weight, preterm delivery, preterm-related death, and SIDS. Also, parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death by taking action to create safe sleep environments.
The Health Department promotes several community-based maternal and child health programs that focus on the reduction and prevention of infant mortality, racial disparities, and low birth weight. These programs, such as Better Birth Outcomes (Great Start), Family Case Management (FCM), Healthy Families, Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Reporting System (APORS), and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), provide outreach and coordination of health services toward goals of a healthy pregnancy, healthy baby, and healthy early childhood.
A healthy pregnancy begins before conception and continues with appropriate prenatal care and addressing health problems if they arise.
The DuPage County Health Department has partnerships with AMITA Family Medicine Residency, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, and VNA Healthcare. These partnerships at the Southeast Public Health Center (Westmont), East Public Health Center (Lombard), and the main office in Wheaton offer obstetrical appointments on-site by appointment.
For questions about the Health Department’s maternal and child health services, please call (630) 682-7400. More information is also available at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/infantmortality.htm and https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/life-stages-populations/infant-mortality.