Infant Mortality Awareness Month

A couple of weeks ago, I made a decision to close out my previous blog with a post that detailed my VERY personal connection to the infant mortality crisis in this country.  Infant mortality is the death of an infant before reaching her first birthday  and preterm birth is one of the most frequent causes… that’s where my story fits in.

Now… as we enter the second week of September, which is Infant Mortality Awareness month, I feel it is my DUTY to make you AWARE that Infant Mortality is a CRISIS in this country.

Contrary to popular belief, while the US does well with a LOT of things, infant mortality, is not one of them, especially if you consider the dollars we spend on health care.  While the United States continues to claim international power house status, in some of our communities we have infant mortality rates that rival rates in un/underdeveloped countries.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that overall the infant mortality rate in the US is relatively low.  However, to the 76 plus babies that die in this country every DAY before reaching their first birthday it’s not simply relative, it’s REAL.

Infant Mortality is a TRUE Village issue.  While ethnic and racial disparities in infant mortality abound, (more on that in a later post) I want to make a point today that infant mortality it is not simply a problem of “minority women.” Infant mortality is not simply a problem of the poor or the disenfranchised. It’s not simply an issue for the uneducated or the unemployed.  Infant mortality reaches all of our communities and whether directly or indirectly, we are ALL affected in one way or another.  Infant Mortality is TRULY a village issue.

Many of you, like me, have a direct personal story that connects you to the infant mortality crisis.  Many more of you know someone who has a personal connection. And if you find that you don’t fit in either of these categories, you can best believe that your neighborhood, your taxes, your health care system and your community is affected by infant mortality.  Regardless of how you are connected, today, on the 9th day of Infant Mortality Awareness Month, I want to make you AWARE that our rates are deplorable.

Infant mortality rate, the number of deaths per 1000 live births has long been used as a marker for the health of a nation.  Information from the CDC, which shows statistical data from 2004, places the United States 29th in the world for infant mortality. This means that there are 28 other countries that have infant mortality rates lower than the United States. As I prepared to write this post I did a little research and learned that more current numbers, like those from the 2006 World Population Prospects published by the United Nations in 2007, place the United States at 32 using data through 2005 and at 33 using projected 2010 data.  Are you KIDDING me??

Speaking of 2010 projections… the Healthy People 2010 goal was to reduce our infant mortality rate to 4.5.  Our rate currently sits around 6.7.  Sadly we are a LOOONNGG way from that goal.

So today, I start my Infant Mortality series in honor of all those babies who touched our lives and were gone too soon.  May your short lives not be in vain but may they serve as a reminder that we have a lot of work to do! This is everybody’s problem and we all need to get involved to make a change. This is truly a village issue if ever there was one. Now that you are AWARE what will you do?

Suggestion:  Start by reading some great blog posts about infant mortality by visiting the July 1st Blog Carnival on the topic. Then, check back here throughout the rest of the month as I continue to raise your awareness about how big of a problem this REALLY is.

In the meantime… Be Blessed and Birth Well
Nicole

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