DHEC And Its Partners Work To Prevent Infant Mortality

By Adrianna Bradley

The first year of life for newborn babies are exciting and scary. As proud new moms and dads fawn over their bundle of joy that joy is tempered by the loss of sleep and a fear of losing their child to some illness, accident or other condition.

Infant deaths are a great concern for our country and the world. Its impact on families and society is devastating.

DHEC monitors infant deaths

DHEC annually collects data to monitor infant death rates across South Carolina.

“Infant mortality has always been a long-standing indicator of population health across the board,” said Kimberly Seals, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal Child Health. “We measure infant mortality to have a broad perspective of population health overall.”

South Carolina’s infant death rates from 2006 to 2016 have dropped 16 percent. The positive trend in reducing infant deaths is due to the work of DHEC staff, our public health partners, parents, and doctors. Some of those partners are the S.C. Hospital Association, PASOs, and the March of Dimes South Carolina Chapter.

Campaigns and programs help curb deaths

DHEC also conducts education campaigns and support programs to address prenatal and post-natal care for infants. These campaigns, programs, and initiatives are vital in keeping S.C.’s babies from becoming a death statistic.

These efforts are critical and on any given day, things can go wrong and they can go wrong quickly. New and first-time mom, Angelica Smith, is familiar with how the routine can quickly turn into an emergency.

It happened March of 2016 when a DHEC newborn home visit nurse, Ann Gordon, went to visit the new mom and baby at their Cherokee County home. Ann was talking with the family when she noticed Angelica had a strange look on her face as she held baby Jacob.

“I looked at him and noticed that his face had started turning blue,” Angelica Smith said.

“I said, Angelica, let me see the baby! He was not breathing and he had no heartbeat,” Ann Gordon said. “I told Angelica to call 911 and started doing CPR on the baby.”

Thanks to this DHEC program and Ann’s actions, little Jacob’s life was saved.

Leading causes of death

Data shows the leading causes of death for newborns are the following:

  • Birth defects
  • Preterm birth and low birth weights
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Accidents

DHEC is working with its partners to continue its progress in keeping even more of the youngest and most vulnerable alive. DHEC is determined to give every child in South Carolina the best chance possible for a happy and productive life.

View the below video for a closer look at DHEC’s efforts to address infant mortality in our state.

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