DHEC working to raise awareness of stillbirth, urging parents to monitor baby health

South Carolina News
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is partnering with Count the Kicks to raise awareness of stillbirth during National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

DHEC says stillbirth is defined as the loss of pregnancy between 20 and 42 weeks gestation. It affects one in 167 pregnancies nationally and is ten times more common than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In South Carolina, an estimated 445 babies are born still each year.

This month, DHEC is encouraging South Carolinians to raise awareness and share information on stillbirth from Count the Kicks with every expecting parent they know.

“Research shows that fetal movement is a good indicator of fetal health. We want mothers to be able to recognize normal fetal movement so they will then be able to recognize unusual patterns,” said Kimberly Seals, DHEC’s Director of the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. “Counting baby’s kicks is an easy and free way for a mother to get in tune with her baby’s patterns and know when to notify the doctor if something changes.”   

Count the Kicks teaches expectant parents the method for tracking their baby’s movements starting at 28 weeks by having daily kick counting sessions. The Count the Kicks mobile phone app helps keep track of fetal movement and is available for free in 12 languages in the iOS and Google Play app stores.

DHEC says when the amount of time it takes to get to 10 movements changes, this could be a sign of potential problems with mom or baby and is an indication to call a health care provider.

DHEC is providing South Carolina healthcare offices with free Count the Kicks brochures, app reminder cards, and posters.

“Through our early warning system — the Count the Kicks app — we have a community of moms who are in tune with their bodies and their babies, letting providers know when something feels off. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is an important time for expectant parents and providers to have regular conversations about fetal movement throughout the third trimester. We are thankful to be partnering with DHEC to get this important message to expectant parents and maternal healthcare providers in South Carolina,” said Emily Price, Healthy Birth Day, Inc. Executive Director.

DHEC says in Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate dropped by nearly 32% in the first 10 years of the campaign while the rest of the country remained relatively stagnant. Count the Kicks wants to bring the same success to every state in the U.S., which could save 7,500 babies each year.

In South Carolina, 112 babies could be saved each year with the successful implementation of the initiative. To learn more, visit CountTheKicks.org.

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