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October 28, 2016

DHEC stresses sleep safety, multivitamins to reduce infant deaths

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is stressing the importance of taking multivitamins that includes folic acid during pregnancy and reminding parents to follow recommended safe sleep practices for infants, the agency announced today.

"The infant mortality rate in South Carolina saw a slight increase from 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 7.0 deaths in 2015, due in part to a high number of sleep-related accidents and an increase in deaths due to birth defects," said Lisa Davis, Director of Health Services for DHEC. "Many of these deaths can be prevented with safe sleep practices and the daily use of multivitamins before and during pregnancy."

New data released today by DHEC shows the leading causes of infant deaths in 2015 were preterm birth/low birth weight, birth defects, accidents and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). These are unchanged from 2014, however the number of deaths due to preterm birth/low birth weight and birth defects increased from 2014 to 2015 (by 11.3 percent and 28.6 percent respectively). A summary of the report can be found here.

Davis said one of the best ways to prevent sleep-related deaths is by following the A,B,C's of Safe Sleep - leave your baby Alone on their Back in their Crib. She also recommends never smoking around your baby, as second-hand smoke can contribute to sudden, unexplained infant death. Davis also recommends women who are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant take a multivitamin that includes at least 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly, which are often fatal.

While recent data indicates a slight increase in infant mortality, the five year trends demonstrate a substantial reduction. In fact, the rate has gone down from 9.3 in 2005 to 7.0 in 2015. To support further reductions, DHEC launched the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Infant Mortality Reduction Plan in 2013 that outlined several recommendations and strategies for reducing infant mortality.

In 2016, DHEC assessed the progress made on the implementation of the plan and identified programs and resources in every county that are working to reduce infant mortality in their areas. This assessment and resource guide are available on the DHEC website.


DHEC Media Relations