Celebrate Day 366: The Impact of Infant Mortality

By Haley Burton

October 1, 2012 Updated Oct 1, 2012 at 6:27 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Celebrating a baby's first birthday is big milestone. But sadly, there are many who do not make it to that day.

October 1 is National Child Health Awareness Day. The federal government has themed Child Health Awareness to be infant mortality reduction.

Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network, Lourdes Hospital and UHS celebrate Day 366.

In 2011, Belinda Hadamik was pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl.

"At 27 weeks after having some pain the night before, the next morning during an ultrasound, they were unable to detect my son's heartbeat," said Hadamik, "No parent should have to feel what I felt. What I feel every day and who knows how it will affect my daughter in the future."

Her daughter, Amelia, was born at 28 and a half weeks at 1 pound, 7 ounces. She spent five and a half months in the NICU at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse.

"I needed to be strong for my daughter who was still living," said Hadamik, "Even though it's been over a year since my son Colton died and daughter Amelia was born, I am still reeling from the reality of my loss and our experience."

Hadamik now wants to help make a difference.

"There are not enough programs in place to help families after a loss or after a baby has been critically ill. Not enough support or awareness for parents of what programs and support systems are available for them or what preventive practices can be used to prevent loss or prematurity to assure a baby makes it to its first birthday," said Hadamik.

Infant mortality is the number of infants who die at birth or during their first year of life. It is measured by the Infant Mortality Rate, which is the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births in a given year.

In 2005, the U.S. ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality.

"We can do better. We must do more to help families have healthier pregnancies which lead to better birth outcomes and then ensure that new moms and dads have the support and services to keep them to help them keep their babies, healthy and safe and developing appropriately throughout their first year of life," said Sharon Chesna, Executive Director of Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network.

September was Infant Mortality Awareness Month.

In June, Secretary of Health, Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, were at an International Children's Health Conference and declared the U.S. is making infant mortality a national priority.

"I think that having a national priority and moving forward is the right thing to do. It's the right approach and the right message. I'm glad I'm participating in this," said Dr. Rajesh Dave, Executive Vice President for Clinical Integration and Chief Medical Officer, United Health Services.

Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network was founded on a mission of reducing infant mortality.

"I'm thrilled this very important issue is being dedicated as a national priority," said Chesna.

"I am humbled and hopeful that the nation has made it a priority to help increase infant mortality awareness which will hopefully decrease the number of infant death in our nation and spare another family from heartache," said Hadamik.

The three leading causes of infant mortality in the U.S. are congenital abnormalities or birth defects, pre-maturity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Mothers and Babies says from 2007 until 2010, "78 babies died in our communities and never celebrated their first birthday."

"I've seen 46 cases of infant mortality. We probably can't prevent all of those deaths. 11 of those deaths were children born with severe congenital abnormalities, usually heart disease," said Dr. James Terzian, Forensic Pathology, Our Lady of Lourdes, "26 of those 46 cases were inappropriate bedding including the co-sleeping situations. There were rare homicides unfortunately, even one accidental death."

Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network is one of 16 Perinatal Networks in New York State. They strive to make positive change in health outcomes for women, infants and families.

They serve an eight county region in South Central New York, consisting of Broome, Chemung, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga and Tompkins Counties.

Mothers and Babies is located at 457 State Street in Binghamton.