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Task force says they want to end infant deaths due to unsafe sleep environment

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 6:32 PM CST
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - As of 2018, Illinois ranked 36th in infant mortality.

Of the deaths, black mothers lost infants at more than double the rate of any other race.

In 2020, 9 infants died in Peoria County because of unsafe sleep environments.

That’s why several groups came together to educate families.

They’re called The Infant Death Prevention Task Force, consisting of the Peoria County Coroner’s Office, fire department, police department, county sheriff’s office, Pediatric Resource Center, DCFS, Advanced Medical Transport and Mobile Integrated Health, Unity Point Methodist Medical Center, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, UICOMP, city/county health department, and the county State’s Attorney’s office.

There was a decrease in deaths in 2021.

“Our vision of our infant death prevention task is simple: We want an opportunity for health for everybody,” Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said.

The task force combined different resources to identify risk factors for new and expectant mothers.

“Our goal is to have a social service person make a point of impact on delivery with the nursing staff and start providing that education,” Harwood continued. “The goal then, is once they discharge, is have the MIH go home and follow the mom home to do an assessment in the home.”

The Illinois Infant Mortality report for Dec of 2020 listed many risk factors; underage mothers, low maternal education, infants living in urban areas outside of Chicago, women on Medicaid, three or more previous live births, previous poor pregnancy outcomes, those who didn’t receive adequate prenatal care and more.

“The task force really has been working to help align that education,” OSF Patient Care Manager Kristie Haage said. “Whether you are at my hospital or your pediatrician’s office, we’re all kind of giving that same education. If there’s something that we can help address. A gap or a resource, we can get them to the right group.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests infants sleep on their own, on their backs, and in a crib.

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