Berrien County Health Department holding community event for infant mortality

BENTON HARBORN, Mich. -- September marks National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Infant mortality is when a baby dies before its first birthday. Now, the Berrien County Health Department is hopeful to educate the community on solutions and preventative measures for some of these tragedies. The health department is holding a community event to provide education and resources to parents to be to help their baby grow into a healthy toddler and beyond.

According to the health department, there are 5 leading causes to infant mortality. These causes include birth defects, preterm birth and low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, maternal pregnancy complications or injuries.

Thursday’s event will be held at Carrode Park in Benton Harbor from 4pm to 7pm. It is open to anyone in the community. It will dive in depth about the causes of infant mortality as well as solutions. It is free to attend.

“People can expect to meet some of the team from our home visiting programs, nurse family partnerships, they also can expect to hear some information about breast feeding and what that looks like and there also will be a keynote speaker to dive in deeper into some of the root causes and things that effect infant mortality and ways we can work together to prevent infant mortality in our community,” says Kyna King, Family Health Programs Manager.  

In 2019, Berrien County had a 3-year average infant mortality rate of 7.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births. This was higher than the state of Michigan’s average of 6.6 deaths.

“It is very important for people to become aware of infant mortality and what is infant mortality because it is a direct correlation to the pulse of our community and the health of our community,” says King.  

Part of today’s event includes learning about preventative measures for infant deaths.  The 6 practicing points according to the health department are practicing safe sleep, eliminating smoking, learning about prenatal and postnatalcare, understanding root cause of the inequalities of social determinants of health, preventing preterm and early births, and receiving risk appropriate prenatal care. The health department also hopes the event forms relationships with parents to be who might otherwise be hesitant to ask questions and seek help.

“So for any moms that might have questions, concerns or hesitancies I would encourage them to reach out to their healthcare providers or reach out to the Berrien county health department, we have a very robust team of professionals here within our home visiting programs,” says King. “We also have different programs that can help provide educational information to support families, we also have community partners, we can also community partners and find internal resources within our own families who are experienced mothers already.”

Further information can be found here.

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