Baker County’s Infant Mortality Task Force and Substance-exposed Newborn Workgroup spread infant mortality awareness around businesses and neighborhoods in the community as part of local activities during September, National Infant Mortality Awareness Month.
The task force was established in 2010 with a goal to lower the infant mortality rate and improve birth outcomes by implementing county-specific strategies. Human Services Support Specialist Stephanie Bechtel, with the Florida Department of Health Baker County Healthy Start program, dressed the walls of the health department with black ribbon and information on the month.
The flyers read:
Infant mortality in Northeast Florida was relatively unchanged in 2017, dropping slightly from 7.4 to 7.3 deaths per 1000 live births. 137 babies died before their first birthday, the equivalent of eight classes of kindergarteners. The regional rate remains higher than the state (6.1 deaths) and nation (5.9 deaths).
Staff from Healthy Start, Azalea Project, Healthy Families, WIC and Baker Prevention Coalition met on September 13 to stuff bags with maternal and child health information and materials and on September 18 the bags were distributed by Stephanie Bechtel and Taryn Rackley from Baker Prevention Coalition. E&M’s Cupcakery & Boutique donated blue and pink cupcakes for the task force to hand out to businesses with the bags.
It takes a village of community support and awareness to prevent infant mortality and Baker truly brought this to the county for National Infant Mortality Awareness Month.