COLUMBIA, S.C. ― During Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reminds South Carolinians of the agency’s ongoing partnership with Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign. Count the Kicks educates and empowers expectant parents about the importance of paying attention to their baby’s movements in the third trimester as a method to prevent stillbirth.
In the United States, stillbirth is defined as the loss of a baby at 20 weeks or later during pregnancy. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stillbirth is a public health crisis, with nearly 23,500 babies born still in the country each year. In South Carolina, 1 in every 144 pregnancies ends in stillbirth.
“Every year in South Carolina, roughly 400 babies are born still. DHEC is committed to improving birth outcomes for families in our state, and we believe Count the Kicks provides a solution to help save babies,” said Kimberly Seals, DHEC’s Director of the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. “We encourage anyone who works with expectant parents to order free Count the Kicks educational materials to share within their communities. Together, we can help more families have a healthy birth outcome.”
The CDC lists a change in a baby’s movements as one of its 15 urgent maternal warning signs. Research shows that babies can be saved from preventable stillbirth when expectant parents track their baby’s movements daily and learn how long it normally takes their baby to get to 10 movements. The free Count the Kicks app is a helpful way to help track third-trimester movement. It’s available for free in 12 languages in the iOS and Google Play app stores.
“The Count the Kicks app is a powerful tool to help expectant parents be more in tune with their bodies and their babies,” said Emily Price, Executive Director for Healthy Birth Day, Inc., the nonprofit organization that created the Count the Kicks campaign. “We are grateful to be partnering with DHEC to ensure parents and providers in South Carolina have the tools and resources they need to have an ongoing conversation about fetal movement throughout the third trimester.”
Racial disparities persist in birth outcomes, and a disproportionate number of babies are born still to African American, Hispanic and Native American women. According to the CDC, a Black woman is more than twice as likely to lose her baby to stillbirth than her White counterpart. For Black women in the U.S., 1 in every 96 pregnancies will end in stillbirth compared to 1 in every 212 pregnancies for White women. Black women are also three times more likely to die of pregnancy complications.
“This October, we invite South Carolinians to raise awareness about the impact of stillbirths within our communities and to help share the information and resources that can help prevent stillbirths, especially among our state’s African American, Hispanic and Native American women,” said Seals.
Learn more about Count the Kicks at countthekicks.org. For more information about resources offered by DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, visit scdhec.gov/health.