DHEC Urges Expectant Parents to Monitor Baby Health by Promoting ‘Count the Kicks’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 20, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Well before the first case of COVID-19, a maternal health crisis was happening in the United States and is now being exacerbated by the pandemic. Each year, 24,000 babies are born still nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Stillbirth, defined as the loss of a pregnancy between 20- and 42-weeks gestation, affects one in every 167 pregnancies nationally, and is 10 times more common than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In South Carolina, an estimated 445 babies are born still each year.
In an effort to address this maternal health crisis, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is partnering with Count the Kicks. 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 information about Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign, with every expectant 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. 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.
The Count the Kicks app is an important tool for parents and providers to help monitor fetal well-being during this ongoing public health crisis, when there may be changes to the regular schedule of prenatal appointments.
DHEC is committed to reducing stillbirths in South Carolina through increasing awareness and community intervention. Thanks to its partnership with Count the Kicks, nurses, doctors, hospital staff and other providers in the state, DHEC has been able to order free Count the Kicks brochures, app reminder cards, and posters to place in offices that care for pregnant women.
“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.
When expectant parents get to know what’s normal for their baby, they know when to stay at home and when to contact their provider. 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.
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.
About Count the Kicks
Healthy Birth Day, Inc., the nonprofit that created Count the Kicks, currently has a growing network of supportive doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics that give Count the Kicks materials to their patients. We have a free Count the Kicks app in Google Play and iOS app stores that is available in 12 languages and has been downloaded more than 115,000 times in all 50 U.S. states, and more 140 other countries. The app allows expectant parents to monitor their baby’s movement, record the history, set a daily reminder, count for twins and more. Count the Kicks has Ambassadors in 30 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C., Canada and India. Representatives of the organization have appeared on Good Morning America, in O Magazine, and produced a national PSA that has generated more than 300 million viewer impressions.
In the first 10 years of the Count the Kicks campaign in Iowa (2008-2018), the state’s stillbirth rate decreased nearly 32 percent, according to the CDC. In the same timeframe, the stillbirth rate in the U.S. has remained stagnant. Learn more about the mission to save 7,500 babies every year and improve birth outcomes everywhere at CountTheKicks.org.
DHEC is charged with promoting and protecting the health of the public and the environment in South Carolina. With more than 3,800 employees working in 100 locations across the state, DHEC’s vision is healthy people living in healthy communities. This vision is supported by the agency’s four divisions:
- Environmental Affairs issues and enforces environmental permits and operates the state’s ocean and coastal resource management program.
- Healthcare Quality oversees the licensing and certification of healthcare facilities, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers, and drug control enforcement.
- Public Health operates the agency’s public health and state laboratory functions, including 72 local health departments.
- Operations provides strategic planning, project management, information technology, communications, legal services, human resources, and facility support.