JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas has historically had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the United States, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
On average, seven Arkansas babies die a week before they reach their first birthday. The average was six in 2010.
Nurses at the Northeast Arkansas (NEA) Baptist Hospital Women's Center work to educate parents on prenatal and infant safety. "Before the babies and mothers go home we have a packet of instructions we go over with them that covers anything from bathing your infant, to feeding them, cord care, how to prevent accidents from happening in the home," said registered nurse Megan League.
NEA also provides free classes every month that are open to the public.
Director of the northeast Arkansas division of March of Dimes Melissa Gann said developing good habits before babies are born is key in preventing infant mortality. "One of the most important things, of course, is to see your doctor throughout the pregnancy, eat healthy, just take care of yourself."
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the United States in 2006, 28,509 infants died before reaching their first birthday. Some of the leading causes of infant death in the U.S. include birth defects, prematurity and sudden infant death syndrome. Gann said some factors are preventable. "There are certain things that we can do to help lower those numbers."
"We certainly want to do what we can to encourage women to prevent it from happening in the first place."
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.
- Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area.
- Do not allow smoking around your baby.
- Keep your baby's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep.
- Do not let your baby overheat during sleep.
- Make sure nothing covers the baby's head.
- Babies sleep safer on their backs.