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Arizona Department of Health Services
In 2012, 496 Arizona babies died before their first birthday. Sometimes we do everything right and things still go wrong. But there are really important prevention measures to consider that can help reduce the chances of an infant death or life-long health problems.
The problem of infant mortality and prematurity has long been of utmost concern in public health. This year the President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials has selected the Healthy Babies Project for his national initiative- challenging each state to implement strategies to reduce prematurity and infant mortality based on successful national, regional, and state efforts to improve the health status of babies. We've joined a national pledge to set a goal of reducing premature births by 8% by 2014. This would mean 800 more babies would make it to full term.
- Healthy Babies Initiative on My Turn
- Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait News Conference
- ASTHO and March of Dimes Pledge
- Letter to Dr. Paul Jarris, ASTHO
- Letter to Dr. David Lakey, ASTHO
- Partnership Letter to Will Humble
- Participation Checklist
Why the focus on prematurity? Many babies die because they're born too soon. In 2012, 192 Arizona babies died due to prematurity, the leading cause of death for newborns. Even babies born a few weeks early have high odds of learning disabilities, vision & hearing loss and cerebral palsy.
- Expanding home visiting programs to families and pregnant women in high-risk communities;
- Developing standards for home visiting programs throughout Arizona and professional development of home visitors so that home visits maximize opportunities to reduce risks for premature birth;
- Expanding awareness of importance of preconception health and implementation of the Arizona Preconception Health Strategic Plan;
- Continuing to support the March of Dimes "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" 39 Week Toolkit;
- Renew focus on infant safe sleeping practices to reduce post-neonatal infant mortality; and
- Use social media and public relations events to promote the overall campaign.
So what steps can you take to set the stage for a healthy baby?
Pre-Pregnancy and Conception
Be as healthy as possible before pregnancy. The health of a woman before she even thinks about having a baby has a significant impact on the health of a baby at birth and throughout its life. This includes being at a healthy weight, not smoking or drinking, managing any existing health concerns like diabetes, high blood pressure or STDs. Taking a multivitamin with 400-800 micrograms of folic acid and planning your pregnancy.
- Every Woman Arizona Preconception Materials
ADHS offers info for women thinking about becoming parents and what health risks they may need to consider.
Once you're pregnant and if your pregnancy is healthy, it's best to let labor occur on its own and stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks. Many hospitals in Arizona have stopped doing elective C-sections and inductions before 39 weeks, because the baby's brain and other vital organs are not yet fully developed. Healthy Babies are worth the wait! ADHS is working with MOD on a new campaign to reduce prematurity and has set a goal of reducing the state's pre-term birth rate by 8% by 2014, preventing 950 pre-term births.
- Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait
This March of Dimes campaign encourages parents to avoid scheduling their baby's birth and carry them until at least 39 weeks.
Free health tips right to your phone throughout pregnancy
- Arizona Women Infants and Children (WIC)
Nutrition education, breastfeeding information and nutritious food plans for pregnant women and their children up to 5-years-old.
- Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Children, and WIC Hotlines
ADHS operates various hotlines, some of them 24 hours a day, to help answer questions during and after your pregnancy.
- Baby Arizona
Resources for mothers and mothers to be in Arizona with tips, hotlines and other information.
- Flu shot while pregnant
There are special measures to take in getting vaccine when pregnant and ADHS has gathered that info to keep parents informed.
In the first year of a baby's life, there are things we can do to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It's been nearly 20 years since the national "back to sleep" campaign was launched, teaching parents, child care providers, and health care professionals to put babies to sleep on their backs. The rate of SIDS went down by 50%. But rates have stalled and we're recognizing sleep-related issues such as suffocation and strangulation. Last year, 77 babies died in unsafe sleep environments, which is why we're promoting strategies for safe sleeping.
Research shows that we can reduce the risk for SIDS and sleep-related deaths by doing a number of things:
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night
- Place your baby on a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet, never on pillows, quilts, or other soft surfaces
- Have baby sleep without extra bedding or toys, and ensure face is not covered during sleep
- Safest place for baby to sleep is in the same room with a parent or caregiver but separate sleep surface, such as safety approved crib
- Keep the baby's environment smoke-free
- To prevent overheating, babies should sleep in lightweight clothing, with the room at temperature comfortable for an adult
- ADHS Breastfeeding Program
ADHS encourages moms to breastfeed for at least the first six months of their child's life. This is also promoted at hospitals with a program called AZ Baby Steps to Breastfeeding Success.
- Arizona Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
The WIC program continues to support babies after they are born providing breastfeeding support or formula to new parents and helping to educate families on proper nutrition.
- Newborn Screening Program
Get info on the tests performed on babies in Arizona shortly after birth and what diseases and complications proper screening and follow-up can prevent.