St. Louis County trying to stop increasing infant death rate | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Wednesday morning’s event will encompass a lot, including gun safety, but its primary focus is on safe sleeping.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The U.S. recently saw its first increase in infant deaths in more than 20 years, but the national average is still lower than the infant mortality rate in St. Louis County.

The county’s infant mortality rate is 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, higher than what the CDC estimates is the U.S. national average of 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. Black infants in St. Louis County are 6.4 times more likely to die before their first birthday, according to county health officials.

READ MORE: Infant deaths have risen for first time in 20 years

County officials are trying to lower that number through hosting a free child safety event Wednesday. It’s happening at the John C. Murphy Health Center at 6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. No registration is required, and the event is completely free.

The event is vital for the community since too many children die each year from preventable causes, including unsafe sleeping conditions, county health officials said. 

Wednesday’s event is focused on giving parents and caregivers resources and education on how to protect their little ones. 

While the event will encompass a lot, including gun safety, its primary focus is on safe sleeping. 

Dr. Kanika Cunningham, St. Louis County Public Health Department Director, said before you put your baby to bed, make sure you are following the ABC’s: Alone, back and clear. She said that means no co-sleeping, put your baby on his or her back and don’t have a lot of pillows or blankets around your baby.

“With so many different things taking place in our community, there was a big push early on about back to sleep and then it kind of faded a little bit,” Dr. Cunningham said. “Right now, we need to bring that back to the forefront so we can save our babies as well as educate our community, because these are preventable deaths and preventable because we can educate and provide the resources to those families.”

While demonstrations of safe sleeping practices will be provided, health officials are also promoting safety and well-being in other ways. 

Families who attend will get free pack-and-play sets, gun locks, Narcan kits, winter coats and smoke detectors. 

Dr. Cunningham wanted to do this event ahead of the holiday season while families gathered together and educate the community on concerning trends they’re seeing.

“Safe sleep is something that’s been around for a long time and unfortunately, we’re seeing babies die unexpectedly from unsafe sleep practices,” she said. “We’re also seeing in homicide rates, of course, are higher, especially among our black males in St Louis County, so gun locks and educating about gun violence prevention is also something that’s important.”

The child safety event is also being hosted with several community partners, including the Berkeley Fire Department.

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