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DHEC partners with 'Count the Kicks' campaign to prevent stillbirth in SC

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DHEC has partnered with a group called "Count the Kicks" to teach women how to monitor fetal movement during pregnancy. The campaign was established to reduce the number of babies who who die of stillbirth in the womb. Dreamstime

The state health department announced a new partnership with a group called "Count the Kicks" on Wednesday.

The nonprofit organization works to prevent the number of babies who are stillborn by educating pregnant women about monitoring fetal movement once they reach their third trimester. 

It's an imprecise activity, because some babies move more inside the womb than others. Other babies' movements are more subtle than others, depending on how they're positioned in the uterus. Count the Kicks encourages pregnant women to learn how long it normally takes their baby to move 10 times and then to use that time frame as way to monitor any changes.

The group has developed a free app to assist in tracking all this information. 

"After a few days, moms will begin to see a pattern, a normal amount of time it takes their baby to get to 10 movements," a press release published the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control explained.

"If their baby’s 'normal' changes during the third trimester, this could be a sign of potential problems and is an indication that the expectant mom should call her healthcare provider," the message said.

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According to DHEC, one out of every 130 pregnancies in South Carolina ends in stillbirth, which is defined as the delivery of a baby who has died in the womb at some point after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Black women in the state are more likely to experience a stillbirth than white women.

Black infants who are born in South Carolina are also much more likely to die before their first birthday, according to DHEC's infant mortality statistics. 

According to the DHEC press release, an average 445 babies are stillborn in South Carolina each year. 

"In Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate dropped by nearly 32 percent in the first 10 years of the campaign (2008-2018)," the press release said.

"The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is hoping to bring the same success that Iowa has seen to South Carolina, which would save 129 babies in our state each year."

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.

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