The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Movement began in the United States on October 25, 1988 when then-American President Ronald Reagan designated the month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. While I am glad that there is a day to recognize our lost babies so I don't feel so alone, it is terrible that there needs to be one. The truth is, not every pregnancy arrives at a happy ending. As I've said before, one in four pregnancies end with a loss - most of these being miscarriages but still a significant chunk who are babies who have been born.
The United States has the highest infant mortality rate of all the other developed nations. We are ranked #40 in the World, behind countries such as Cuba or Lithuania. Our ranking also keeps falling every year (we were ranked # 12 in 1960). One out of every 233 children will die under the age of 1 in the US, a number that is ridiculously high. And its not due to lack of care - our nation spends more on healthcare per capita than any other and also has more neonatologists than all the other countries in the world.
The number one cause of death of infants in the US is prematurity although SIDS and, sadly, asphyxiation also rank highly. In the United States, SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants from one month to one year of age and kills about 2,500 infants a year. SIDS is defined as the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history of the family and infant. Most deaths occur between two to four months. SIDS can not be prevented and there is no way to predict when it will happen. (Don't get me started on how misunderstood SIDS is. Drives me nuts how it is tied to accidental suffocation. Not the same thing people. But I digress. That's another topic I can delve into in another entry.)
The United States also has an abnormally high prematurity rate. More than 15 million (or 12 %) of babies are born premature in the US every year. The US ranks 131 in the world for premature birth rate - the same as Somalia, Thailand and Turkey. More than one million of the babies who are born premature will die as a result of complications. That is a staggering number and needs to change (hence my commitment to help the March of Dimes). The walk is coming up soon and I will be asking for your help again. More information will be coming soon!
So today, on Pregnancy Loss and Awareness Day, remember the 1 in 4 who never got to hold their child. Or gave birth to a child that they never got to see take a breath. Or held a child they never got to take home and live their short life on a hospital. Or had a child that passed away suddenly and without warning at home. Put yourself in our shoes and remember that pregnancy and infant loss is real, is occurring more often and can happen to anyone. Even you. Even me.
At 7pm this evening, I invite you to join me in lighting a candle in memory of all of the babies lost. This is a worldwide event and hopefully, you can be part of a wave of light in remembrance.
My love goes out to all of the angels that left us too soon and all the families that are dealing with this loss. Hug your children a little tighter today in honor of us who can't.
I love you Naya. I miss you so much.