JACKSON, MISS– October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and the Mississippi Department of Health has been doing all they can to lower the State’s infant mortality rate.
Infant mortality rates have decreased by 15 percent in the Magnolia State in the last five years, according to the Mississippi Department of Health.
Dr. Charlene Collier is an OB-GYN with the state department of health and she said preterm birth is the leading contributor to infant death.
“We have one of the higher preterm births in the country,” said Collier. “We see a high instance of babies born before 37 weeks.”
Collier said it has been a challenge to prevent preterm births.
“Educating moms and making sure women have access to health before pregnancy is a big factor,” said Collier. “And then when they are pregnant, getting them proper prenatal care.”
Women who have given birth before 37 weeks are likely to have another preterm birth if they were to conceive again.
While birth at 37 weeks does not necessarily guarantee the loss of an infant, Collier said steps must be taken following the birth to insure the survival and health of the infant.
“Our goal is to get the best outcome for that baby,” said Collier. “We try to find the best place for that baby to be born, so they have the technology and facilities to help improve survival in this high-risk babies.”
Another leading cause of death in infants, aside from preterm birth, is sleep-related death.
“We try to get parents to have babies on their back, in their cribs,” said Collier. “That prevents suffocation, rollover deaths, etc.”
The Mississippi Department of Health has shared on their website ways to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths:
- Place your infant completely on his or her back to sleep at night and for naps.
- Use a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet.
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib. Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, crib bumpers, sheepskins, stuffed toys and other soft objects from the infant’s sleeping area.
- Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair — alone, with you, or with anyone else — due to the danger of accidental suffocation.
- Do not allow your infant to get too hot during sleep. The infant should be lightly clothed and the bedroom temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Use a sleep sack or similar sleepwear instead of blankets to help keep your baby warm and safe.
- Give your baby a dry pacifier that is not attached to a string for naps and at night to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Breastfeed your baby to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you bring your baby into your bed to breastfeed, put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a safety-approved crib, when you are finished.
- Do not smoke while pregnant or around your baby and never allow others to smoke around your infant.