By Mylynn Tufte, RN, MBA, MSIM, North Dakota State Health Officer
The holiday season is upon us and excitement is in the air. For me that was how my first pregnancy with our daughter, Mayna, felt. We were going to be parents!
My husband, Jerod, and I had waited five years after getting married to start our family. We were ready, we had everything planned out and couldn’t wait for our baby to arrive. We had made all the preparations and things seemed to be going along smoothly … until that devastating day. At 40 weeks and 3 days, Mayna was born still.
Fifteen years later, our lives have changed. We are blessed with a beautiful family – two sons and a daughter. We have successful careers. Jerod is on the North Dakota Supreme Court and I’m leading the North Dakota Department of Health. AND we can make a difference in the lives of others through the Count the Kicks Program.
Count the Kicks educates and inspires expectant mothers to track their baby’s fetal movement during the third trimester. Through a public health awareness campaign, supportive tools and technology, we have the opportunity to save babies and families. The CDC estimates that nearly 24,000 babies are born still every year, a rate of 5.89 per 1,000 live births. Tragically, there are higher rates of stillbirth among some populations: 4.89 per 1,000 live births among non-Hispanic whites, 10.32 per 1,000 among non-Hispanic blacks, 7.22 per 1,000 among American Indians and Alaska Natives, 4.29 per 1,000 among Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 5.01 per 1,000 among Hispanics. These health disparities can be minimized through Count the Kicks.
According to the North Dakota Division of Vital Records, there were 60 cases of stillbirth in our state in 2018. Of those, 72 percent were to White women, 13 percent were to American Indian women and 15 percent were to women of other minority races. While White women accounted for the majority of stillbirth cases, American Indian women and women of other races were disproportionately affected at rates of 9.2 per 1,000 live births and 6.7 per 1,000 live births respectively, compared to a rate of 5.1 per 1,000 among White women.3
Please help us spread cheer, hope, and most precious gift of life. Tell your story. Count the Kicks to help prevent stillbirths. Together, we can save babies.