According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) data brief from December of 2020, 21,467 infants die each year in the U.S. The CDC has identified the top 10 contributing factors, but the top four contribute to more than 10,000 of those deaths. The number becomes more disappointing when it is understood that many of these deaths are likely preventable.
Neonatal Mortality – Understanding the Leading Causes
By far, the most significant number of neonatal deaths (the death of an infant before his or her first birthday) are attributed to congenital malformations, deformations, and chromosomal abnormalities.
The second largest contributor is disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight. In third place is accidents or unintentional injuries. Sudden infant death syndrome is the fourth largest contributor and is nearly tied with maternal complications of pregnancy.
Solutions that Work – Educating for Healthier Pregnancies
The good news is that there are some fairly straightforward solutions to many of the factors that contribute to neonatal mortality. Healthcare providers and public health organizations can help with education that helps pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant understand how to minimize their risks, protect their pregnancies and the health of their newborns. Perhaps the most effective strategies are those that equip pregnant women and new mothers with information on how to protect their pregnancies, themselves, and their babies.
Pregnant women should also be encouraged to avoid smoking of any kind before and during pregnancy. This will help to minimize the risk of pre-term birth, cleft palette and lip, low birth weight and even death. Women who use marijuana for medical reasons should consult their doctors for alternative and safer therapies during their pregnancy.
Solutions that Work – Preventing Accidents and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Healthcare providers have an important role in keeping infants safe. New parents receive an abundance of information before bringing their infant home including essential information on infant safety. Significant improvements in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome have been realized since the 1990s, but there are still about 3,500 infant sleep-related deaths each year. This number would seem to indicate that there is still a need to educate caregivers on the importance of placing infants on their backs on firm surfaces for sleep. It is also important to emphasize the importance of removing other hazards such as pillows, bumpers, and soft toys from the crib. While room-sharing is recommended, bed sharing is not and can represent a danger to infants.
Solutions that Work – Improving Healthcare Providers’ Neonatal Care Quality
A previous HealthStream blog post about neonatal mortality offered the following solutions for improving providers’ care quality in this area:
HealthStream and our partner S.T.A.B.L.E. have recently partnered to deliver the dynamic S.T.A.B.L.E. program in an online format for the first time ever. The self-paced, online S.T.A.B.L.E. program takes 5.5 to 6 hours to complete and offers e-learners the ability to build their confidence through interactive activities, audio and video presentations, and PDF resources from the S.T.A.B.L.E. manual that can be downloaded or printed. Learn more by accessing the webinar recording for Preparing Your Staff to Provide Quality Maternal and Neonatal Care.Everyday hundreds of newly born infants become ill and require specialized care, yet many caregivers lack the knowledge, skills, and confidence in their ability to provide the necessary care. With the goal to improve the quality of care of sick infants and increase the confidence of those who care for them, HealthStream and S.T.A.B.L.E. have partnered to offer the dynamic S.T.A.B.L.E. program in an online format for the first time ever.
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