Infant mortality rate in Utah Valley declines

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    By Kristen Taufer

    Utah County may have a high birthrate, but fortunately it has a low rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

    Jackie Evans-Black, the Utah County Family Health Bureau director and a registered nurse, said this low rate of SIDS could be due to Utah”s healthy lifestyle and awareness campaigns.

    Evans-Black said in the year 2000, the infant mortality rate dropped 4.8 percent and called it a “very good day” for her office.

    In the United States there are nearly 3,000 SIDS deaths each year. In 2000, four babies died of SIDS in Utah County, Evans-Black said.

    Melanie Wallentine, reproductive health promotion specialist and SIDS coordinator for the Utah Health Department, said SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained even after an autopsy.

    She said SIDS is not caused by infection, immunization, nor is it child abuse or homicide.

    “SIDS is currently unpredictable and not 100 percent preventable,” Wallentine said.

    Evans-Black said the Health Department is working with other state programs to collect data on SIDS in order to learn more about this unexplainable syndrome.

    The Health Department also has several programs to help parents who have lost a child to SIDS.

    “We go out to homes and help families go through the grieving process. We provide information and support,” Evans-Black said.

    She said parents and soon-to-be parents should not neglect going to their medical provider for information on this subject.

    Bonnie Midget, media relations coordinator for the Primary Children”s Medical Center, said although the hospital does not have programs aimed directly at counseling those who have lost a child to SIDS, they do offer bereavement counseling.

    Midget said they also offer counseling for children who have lost a sibling.

    Evans-Black said parents should know SIDS is not their fault.

    “Caregivers just need to make sure they take all the precautions,” she said.

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