DHEC, ‘Count The Kicks’ Announce Partnership to Improve Birth Outcomes in South Carolina
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sept. 28, 2021
Organizations working to raise awareness about the impact of stillbirth during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
COLUMBIA, S.C. ― The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is partnering with Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign, in an effort to address the U.S. maternal health crisis and improve birth outcomes for South Carolina’s women and babies. During the month of October, which is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, DHEC invites South Carolinians to help raise awareness about this important issue by sharing Count the Kicks with every expectant parent they know.
The United States is the only developed country with a consistently rising maternal mortality rate, according to the World Health Organization. CDC data shows that every year in the U.S. approximately 700 women will die from childbirth complications, and 23,500 babies will be stillborn. The risk is even greater for Black women who, according to the CDC, are twice as likely to lose a baby to stillbirth than their White neighbor, colleague or friend. Black women are also three times more likely to die of pregnancy complications.
“Data and research show that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating what was already broken when it comes to maternal and infant health,” said Kimberly Seals, DHEC Director of the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. “We are seeing increases in stillbirth and maternal death since the pandemic began. DHEC wants every mother and baby to have a healthy birth day, and we are committed to improving birth outcomes and preventing stillbirths in South Carolina through the Count the Kicks public health campaign.”
Stillbirth, defined as the loss of a pregnancy between 20-42 weeks of gestation, affects 1 in every 169 pregnancies nationally, and is 10 times more common than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For women who experience a stillbirth, maternal morbidity is almost five times more common than in women who have live births. In the state of South Carolina, 395 babies are born still each year.
Beginning in the third trimester, expectant parents can get to know their baby’s normal movement pattern by having a daily kick counting session using the free Count the Kicks app, which is available in 12 languages in the iOS and Google Play app stores. When the amount of time it takes to get to 10 movements changes, it can be a red flag to potential problems with mom or baby and is an indication for the expectant parent to call their provider right away.
The Count the Kicks app is a powerful tool to help expectant parents be more in tune with their bodies and their babies. The data in the app acts as an early warning system for expectant parents so they can let their providers know when something feels off. Kick counting data within the app can even be emailed or texted directly to providers — a helpful way to determine the next best steps for mom and baby when going in may increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
“It is more important than ever for expectant parents and providers to have regular conversations about fetal movement throughout the third trimester,” said Emily Price, Healthy Birth Day, Inc. Executive Director. “Our campaign provides the tools and resources needed to facilitate this conversation. We are thankful to be partnering with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to get this important message to expectant parents and maternal healthcare providers in South Carolina.”
Through this partnership, nurses, doctors, hospital staff and other maternal health providers in South Carolina have access to free Count the Kicks brochures, app reminder cards, and posters to place in offices that care for pregnant patients and to share with expectant parents.