YOUR SIDE: The Readers Take Over

Infant mortality rate is big concern

To the editor:

Maria is the mother to her prematurely born son, Ryan. After spending almost 40 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, Ryan is finally able to come home for the first time. After just a few days of adjusting to his new surroundings in what would have been his forever home, Maria’s life would forever be changed. She woke up one morning to a lifeless Ryan, innocently lying in his crib. Maria could not help but place the blame and guilt on herself for her son’s death. Realizing that nothing could have been done at that moment, there are a myriad of preventative measures that should have been considered prior to their discharge home. Many mothers with similar situations wish they had achieved a sense of ultimate satisfaction, knowing they were given the proper guidance, knowledge, and education prior to being discharged home.

Ohio holds a relatively higher infant mortality rate than most other states, with almost nine infant deaths occurring per 1,000 live births in 2016 (Center for Disease Control, 2018). Also in 2016, 16 deaths occurred just in Mahoning County (Ohio Department of Health, 2018). Furthermore, the U.S. infant mortality rate encompasses a wide range of data, with more than 23,000 infants dying unexpectedly in 2015.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 15 percent of these deaths were attributed to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is also known as cot or crib death and is defined as an unexplained death of a healthy baby less than 1-year-old, which usually occurs during sleep. However, SUIDS encompasses SIDS, unknown causes, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. The likelihood of the development of SUIDS seems to increase with premature births (CDC, 2018). While SUIDS cannot be prevented, there are some key precautionary measures that everyone should know about, some of which if not taken seriously can be detrimental to your child’s ability to adapt adequately to extrauterine life for the first year.

While striving to increase the awareness and knowledge of SUIDS, it is very important to abide by the following precautionary measures to reduce your child’s risk of developing SUIDS: place your baby to sleep on his or her back; have your baby sleep in the same room as you until at least 6 months of age; breastfeed your baby; and offer a pacifier when sleeping, but wait until breastfeeding has been established (CDC, 2018).

Finally, it is important to realize that purchasing a baby monitor that displays vital signs and other data is not a cure all and tends to give a false sense of security to parents. Moreover, several monitor brands are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and studies have been done showing that they send false alarms that lead to unnecessary hospital visits (Pelletiere, 2018). As the statistics demonstrate, infant mortality remains an astronomical issue not only nationally, but especially locally. By spreading awareness and education to the population, we as a community can endeavor to decrease our infant mortality rate by decreasing the incidence of SUIDS.




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 12, 2018. Sudden unexpected infant death and sudden infant death syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sids/AboutSUIDandSIDS.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 3, 2018. Infant mortality. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/MaternalInfantHealth/InfantMortality.htm.

Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, 2018. Mahoning County. Retrieved from https://www.odh.ohio.gov/-/media/ODH/ASSETS/Files/cfhs/OEI/comprofiles/mahoning.pdf?la=en.

Pelletiere, Nicole, Aug. 22, 2018. Parents cautioned about using monitors to prevent SIDS after new study. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Family/parents-cautioned-monitors-prevent-sids-study/story?id=57331225.


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