(Greensboro, NC) -- In 2011, fifty-seven Guilford County babies did not live to see their first birthday. During the month of September, which is designated as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, the Guilford County Coalition on Infant Mortality will air infant mortality awareness commercials on WFMY. In addition, two billboards will be posted in Greensboro with the message that reads "Every Child deserves a 1st Birthday".
"Infant mortality is a complex and continuing problem that strikes all types of families at any income level, and stems from a variety of health and societal ills," said Merle Green, Health Director. "In 1988, North Carolina was ranked the absolute worst state in the nation for infant mortality, and while strides have been made to overcome that fateful distinction, we have to be vigilant in our fight to save babies so that no family has to bear this unfathomable loss."
The Department of Public Health launched the organization of the Guilford County Coalition on Infant Mortality. It was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1991, with the goal to eliminate infant mortality and morbidity through community education and involvement. "We stand true in this mission to make a difference for all babies and families," stated Charmaine Purdum, Coalition coordinator. "This year we will celebrate 21 years of coordinating prenatal care through the Adopt-A-Mom Program. Thanks to our wonderful community partners, 5,000 women have received prenatal care through this program with healthy birth outcomes that exceed that of the state and nation."
In order to increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and birth for mom and baby, and a healthy first year for the baby, the Department of Public Health and the Coalition on Infant Mortality remind all women of child bearing age that they should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. In addition, families need to plan and space their children two years apart, and seek early and adequate prenatal care. Pregnant women should abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and exposure to second hand smoke. Women who have had a previous preterm delivery should inquire if they are a candidate for 17 P, a weekly injection that has been shown to significantly reduce a subsequent delivery prematurely. Babies should be placed on their back to sleep, and co-sleeping with anyone is to be avoided. Children should be properly immunized against preventable diseases. All children should be restrained properly in a child safety seat when riding in an automobile, and children should never be left unattended in a vehicle, regardless of the outside temperature.
For more information on reducing infant mortality including programs and services for women, contact Guilford County Department of Public Health at (336)641-7777.