UnitedHealthcare grant helps expand stillbirth prevention campaign throughout Ohio

Stillbirth is a national public health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. For Ohio families, 1 in every 159 pregnancies end in stillbirth, and families in the state are 10 times more likely to lose a baby to stillbirth than to SIDS.

In honor of October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, UnitedHealthcare is providing a $25,000 grant to Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign, to help expand their outreach in Ohio. Through the collaboration, maternal health providers, birthing hospitals, social service agencies, childbirth educators and other providers in Ohio can order free Count the Kicks educational materials to help them have the kick counting conversation with expectant parents.

These materials include posters, brochures and app download cards in English and Spanish. The materials also include picture-based items for expectant parents who speak another language. Count the Kicks originally launched in Ohio in 2018 with the Ohio Department of Health. The campaign aims to save more than 280 babies a year in Ohio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists a change in a baby’s movements as one of its 15 urgent maternal warning signs. Count the Kicks helps improve birth outcomes by teaching expectant parents the method for and importance of monitoring their babies’ movement during the third trimester of pregnancy. Research shows that babies can be saved from preventable stillbirth when expectant parents track their babies’ movements daily and learn how long it normally takes their baby to get to 10 movements.

“UnitedHealthcare is committed to improving birth outcomes for families in our state, and we believe Count the Kicks provides a solution to help save babies now,” said Dr. Gary Grosel, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare in Ohio. “We encourage anyone who works with expectant parents to order free Count the Kicks educational materials to share with the communities you serve. Together we can help more families have a healthy birth outcome.”

By using the free Count the Kicks app, expectant parents have the peace of mind to know when their baby is moving like normal. If their baby’s movement changes, this could be a sign of potential problems and is an indication that the expectant parent should call their health care provider right away.

In the United States, stillbirth is defined as the loss of a baby at 20 weeks or greater during pregnancy. According to the CDC, nearly 23,500 babies are born still each year. Every year in the U.S., more babies are stillborn than the number of deaths among children aged 0-14 years from preterm birth (3,679), SIDS (1,334), accidents (1,208), drownings (689), guns (305), fire (291) and flu (142) combined.

“The Count the Kicks app is a powerful tool to help expectant parents be more in tune with their bodies and their babies,” said Emily Price, executive director for Healthy Birth Day, Inc., the nonprofit organization that created the Count the Kicks campaign. “We are grateful to be partnering with UnitedHealthcare to ensure parents and providers in Ohio have the tools and resources they need to have an ongoing conversation about fetal movement throughout the third trimester.”

In Iowa, where Count the Kicks began, the state’s stillbirth rate dropped by nearly 32% in the first 10 years of the campaign (2008-2018) and in the first five years the African American rate decreased nearly 39%; all while the rest of the country remained relatively stagnant.

This October, UnitedHealthcare invites Ohioans to help raise awareness about the impact of stillbirth in the U.S. and help save babies in our state through the evidence-based Count the Kicks campaign.

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