September 26, 2022

State of Alabama
Press Release: Public Health, Alabama Department of

Alabama Department of Public Health and its Office of Oral Health partner with Count the Kicks to save babies in Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Tommy Johnson, D..M.D., (334) 206-5398
Kimberly Isburg, Healthy Birth Day Inc. Communications Specialist, (515) 494-5115

During October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, organizations are working to raise awareness about ways to prevent stillbirth and improve birth outcomes.

Stillbirth is a national public health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. For Alabama families, 1 in every 168 pregnancies ends in stillbirth, and families in the state are 10 times more likely to lose a baby to stillbirth than to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Recent data show the devastating impact of COVID-19 on placentas and babies. Doctors have discovered what they are calling SARS-CoV-2 placentitis, a condition in which the virus attacks the placenta and cuts off oxygen to the baby.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is partnering with Count the Kicks, an evidence-based stillbirth prevention campaign, to educate and empower expectant parents about the importance of paying attention to baby’s movements in the third trimester. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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. The campaign is credited with already saving the life of one Alabama baby.

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 “normal" changes, this could be a sign of potential problems and is an indication that the expectant parents should call their healthcare 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, stillbirth is truly a public health crisis, with nearly 23,500 babies born still each year. Annually 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.

“Every year in Alabama, 532 babies are born still. ADPH launched Count the Kicks in Alabama a year ago, and we are ecstatic to see the expansion of this evidence-based campaign in our state and to see our first baby saved that we know about. No doubt more lives will be saved because of this expanding partnership," said Samille Jackson, Maternal and Child Health coordinator, ADPH Bureau of Family Health Services.

Racial disparities persist in birth outcomes, and a disproportionate number of babies are born still to African American, Hispanic and Native American women. According to the CDC, a Black woman is more than twice as likely to lose her baby to stillbirth than her white neighbor, colleague or friend. For Black women in the U.S., 1 in every 96 pregnancies will end in stillbirth. Black women are also three times more likely to die of pregnancy complications.

It is imperative that providers are proactively discussing stillbirth prevention (or risk factors) with their patients and providing evidence-based solutions like Count the Kicks to their patients. Building awareness of the problem and directing patients, providers and the public to a solution is one giant step towards preventing stillbirth and maternal morbidity and mortality.

Thanks to additional support from the Office of Oral Health, Alabama will be the first state other than Iowa to launch a pilot project connecting the dots between oral healthcare during pregnancy and stillbirth prevention. "We are happy and excited to bring more evidence and education around the important topic of good oral health care during pregnancy and how dental providers can play an active role in preventing stillbirths,” said State Dental Director Dr. Tommy Johnson.

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

“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 ADPH to ensure parents and providers in Alabama have the tools and resources they need to have an ongoing conversation about fetal movement throughout the third trimester.”

This October, ADPH invites Alabamians 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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9/26/22

About Count the Kicks

The Count the Kicks public health campaign is a project of Healthy Birth Day, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of stillbirth. Count the Kicks has been featured on Good Morning America, Inside Edition and in O Magazine. The free Count the Kicks app is available in 14 languages in the Google Play and iOS app stores, and has been downloaded more than 200,000 times in all 50 U.S. states, and more than 140 other countries. Count the Kicks has more than 100 stories from families in 32 states and three countries who have written in to share how they used Count the Kicks to help their baby have a safe arrival. Learn more about our vision to save 7,500 babies every year at CountTheKicks.org.

County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.



  • For more information, visit http://alabamapublichealth.gov
  • For more state-wide press releases, click here