Iowa lowers stillbirth rate by 32 percent in 10 years

Stillbirth rate

Last week our office was buzzing as three Iowa moms sent us their personal stories of how they saved their babies by using Count the Kicks. The first one came, hooray! The second, oh my goodness! And the third? We could hardly contain our excitement. Three Iowa moms. Three amazing stories about tracking movement, listening to their babies, trusting their instincts, and contacting their providers to get checked out. Three babies here and healthy — and we learned about them all in one week.

The statistics back up the stories. The Iowa Department of Public Health recently finalized its 2018 vital statistics and we are thrilled to share that Iowa’s stillbirth rate has reached an all-time low. In the first decade of Count the Kicks in Iowa, our state has seen a nearly 32 percent reduction in our stillbirth rate. 

What does this mean in real numbers? In 2008 when Count the Kicks first began, Iowa lost 231 babies to stillbirth. In 2018, we lost 148 babies — a difference of 83 year to year. We are thrilled to see the progress each year and to know more families are holding their babies and will get to watch them grow.

Iowa’s progress happened while the country’s stillbirth rate has remained relatively stagnant, according to the CDC. Count the Kicks has helped bring systemic change to Iowa when it comes to stillbirth prevention, and this was illustrated just last week when three Iowa moms wrote to tell us their babies were saved thanks to our campaign.

Meet Rhett, Claire and Skyler.

Baby Saves

The doctors told me that I saved his life by coming in and getting checked out. I will forever be thankful that I was informed about Count the Kicks because it saved his life and made me a mom.” -Taylor B., Skyler’s Mom

With every save story and new encouraging statistic that comes in, we think of YOU. To everyone who has believed in our work, shared it with expectant parents, attended one of our events, donated to our mission, or spread our life-saving message — whether on social media or in person — we say THANK YOU. 

This change is happening because of the many people who have helped us from the beginning and those who support us today. We are beyond grateful and hope you will take as much pride in this success as we do.

Though we are thrilled with Iowa’s progress, our work is far from over as we continue to address racial disparities that persist in birth outcomes and increase our outreach to at-risk women. We were encouraged to see the stillbirth rate among African American women in our state went down a full point from 2017 to 2018. However, in 2018 the white stillbirth rate in Iowa was 3.303, while the rate for African American women was 10.320. That means Black women in our state are three times more likely to lose their baby to stillbirth than their white counterparts. 

As we look to the future of Count the Kicks, we will be identifying more ways to reach expectant moms who are most at risk of losing a baby to stillbirth as we work to reach the point where race is no longer a predictor of stillbirth.

If you are inspired by how far we have come and want us to keep moving forward, we hope you will commit to saving babies with us. If we can take the success that Iowa has seen these first 10 years and realize it with the Count the Kicks campaign on a national level, we can save 7,500 babies a year. 

To do that, we need to spread awareness about Count the Kicks and the importance of tracking fetal movement to expectant parents and providers around the country, and we need your help to keep the conversation going: 

We’re grateful for everyone’s support, education and outreach efforts over the past 10 years in Iowa and our seven partner states, and we look forward to seeing what’s possible for Count the Kicks in the U.S. and beyond over the next 10 years! 

Together we can see more babies with their families and celebrate more healthy birth days!