Alabama Department of Health and Oral Health Office Partners with Count the Kicks to Save Alabama Babies | news

During October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, organizations work to raise awareness of ways to prevent stillbirth and improve birth outcomes.

Stillbirth is a national health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Alabama families, 1 in 168 pregnancies ends in stillbirth, and families in the state are 10 times more likely to lose a baby to stillbirth than to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Recent data shows the devastating effects of COVID-19 on placentas and babies. Doctors have discovered something called SARS-CoV-2 placental disease, a condition in which the virus attacks the placenta and cuts off the baby’s oxygen supply.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is partnering with Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign, to educate and empower expectant parents on the importance of paying attention to baby’s movements in the third trimester. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists a change in a baby’s movements as one of its 15 urgent warning signs for moms. Count the Kicks helps improve birth outcomes by teaching expectant parents the method and importance of monitoring their baby’s movements during the third trimester of pregnancy. Research shows that babies can be saved from preventable stillbirths if expectant parents track their babies’ movements daily and learn how long it typically takes their baby to complete 10 movements. The campaign is credited with saving the life of an Alabama baby.

By using the free Count the Kicks app, expectant parents have the peace of mind of knowing when their baby is moving normally. Any changes in the “normal” state of their baby could be an indication of possible problems and is an indication that the expectant parents should call their doctor immediately.

In the United States, a stillbirth is defined as the loss of a baby during pregnancy at 20 weeks or more. With nearly 23,500 stillborn babies a year, stillbirth is a real public health crisis, according to the CDC. More babies are stillborn each year in the US than the number of deaths in children ages 0-14 from preterm birth (3,679), SIDS (1,334), accidents (1,208), drowning (689), guns (305), fire (291) and influenza (142) together.

“Each year in Alabama, 532 babies are stillborn. ADPH launched Count the Kicks in Alabama a year ago and we are thrilled to see the expansion of this evidence-based campaign across our state and to see our first baby that we know of being saved. There is no doubt that more lives will be saved through this growing partnership,” said Samille Jackson, maternal and child health coordinator at the ADPH Office of Family Health Services.

Racial disparities persist in birth outcomes, and a disproportionate number of babies are still born to African-American, Hispanic, and Native American women. According to the CDC, a black woman is more than twice as likely to lose her baby to stillbirth than her white neighbor, colleague or friend. For black women in the US, every 96th pregnancy ends in stillbirth. Black women are also three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications.

It is imperative that providers proactively talk to their patients about stillbirth prevention (or risk factors) and offer their patients evidence-based solutions such as Count the Kicks. Raising awareness of the problem and guiding patients, providers, and the public toward a solution is a major step toward preventing stillbirth and maternal morbidity and mortality.

With additional support from the Office of Oral Health, Alabama will become the first state alongside Iowa to launch a pilot project that bridges the dots between oral health care during pregnancy and stillbirth prevention. “We are excited and excited to provide more evidence and education around the important issue of good oral health care during pregnancy and how dentists can play an active role in preventing stillbirth,” said State Dental Director Dr. Tommy Johnson.

In Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate fell nearly 32 percent over the first 10 years of the campaign (2008-2018), and over the first five years the African American rate fell nearly 39 percent; Meanwhile, interest rates remained relatively flat in the rest of the country.

“The Count the Kicks app is a powerful tool to help expectant parents be more in tune with their bodies and their babies,” said Emily Price, executive director of Healthy Birth Day, Inc., the nonprofit organization that runs the Count launched the Kicks campaign. “We are grateful to partner with ADPH to ensure parents and providers in Alabama have the tools and resources they need to have an ongoing conversation about fetal movement during the third trimester.”

This October, ADPH invites Alabamians to raise awareness of the impact of stillbirth in the United States and help save babies in our state through the evidence-based Count the Kicks campaign.

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