Baker County Infant Mortality Task Force develops action plan to tackle poor birth outcomes

National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Teen pregnancy, sleep-related deaths, breastfeeding rates — they are all tied to the high infant mortality rate in Baker County and now, targeted areas that the county’s Infant Mortality Task Force will focus efforts on.

The county has consistently had a higher infant mortality rate than the state, which led to the creation of the Task Force, an iniative of the Healthy Start Coalition and subcommittee of Healthy Baker, Inc. Healthy Baker is a non-profit that was created to improve the health of Baker County residents by focusing efforts on multigenerational prevention and health promotion activities that identify, coordinate and promote health resources within the community.

The Task Force developed the plan at their August meeting based on some of the contributing factors to infant mortality.

Teens in Baker County give birth at significantly higher rates than the state and region (63 births to teens per 1,000 teen females). Teens have higher rates of infant mortality and other poor outcomes. Actions planned by the Task Force around preventing teen pregnancy include reviewing the faith-based Our Whole Lives curriculum, implement the TOPS program in the high school, reviewing options for providing comprehensive sex education for teen parents and implementing a curriculum for parents.

Sleep-related deaths are also an issue: of all infant deaths in Baker County in the last five years, 40 percent were sleep-related. In 2010, 2 of 5 infant deaths were sleep-related. Providing safe sleep tent cards to businesses and organizations and safe sleep information in the Baker County Health Department’s OB bags are some of the things the Task Force plans to implement to reduce unsafe sleep practices that lead to these deaths.

The full Action Plan is available here.