The Florida Healthy Babies (FHB) Initiative is a state-wide effort of the Florida Department of Health to address infant mortality at the county level. Although there has been a decline in the infant mortality rate in Pinellas County during the past decade, every two months an infant dies because of unsafe sleep practices. Furthermore, a significant racial disparity exists; black infants are nearly twice as likely to die before their first birthday than white infants in Pinellas. To address this disparity and prevent infant deaths, the FHB Initiative in Pinellas County continues to educate families and providers on safe sleep practices, such as always following the ABC’s of placing baby to sleep: Alone, on Back and in a Crib.
This racial disparity is also reflected in protective factors, such as breastfeeding, with black mothers nearly 10% less likely to initiate breastfeeding and three times less likely to continue exclusive breastfeeding for six months compared to white mothers.
With a strong focus on health equity in breastfeeding, safe sleep, and improved access to resources, the FHB Initiative in Pinellas aims to significantly reduce infant deaths, close the black-white infant mortality gap, and improve health outcomes for all babies in Pinellas County.Thanks to a collaboration with the Tampa Bay Breastfeeding Task Force-Pinellas Chapter, the Juvenile Welfare Board’s “Preventable Deaths” Campaign, and the support of numerous partners, the Florida Healthy Babies Initiative in Pinellas County has been able to make great strides over the last four years! The gap between the number of black breastfed babies compared to white has been nearly cut in half, and the number of infants dying each year due to unsafe sleep has been reduced by 50%.
Additional accomplishments include:
• 12 childcare centers received the “Breastfeeding Friendly” award
• 11 employers have been awarded as a “Breastfeeding Friendly Employer”
• 4 college campuses now have pumping accommodations for staff and students
• 120+ childcare facilities and home childcares trained on the importance of breastfeeding
• 250+ physicians and nurses trained on breastfeeding and safe sleep
• More than 10,000 participants have been trained in safe sleep practices for infants
• 20% increase in access of infant-related resources through Tampa Bay 2-1-1
• 30% increase in access of lactation resources posted on the DOH-Pinellas website
• 50% increase in lactation referrals through the Department of Health home visiting programs
• More than 20,000 magnets and “License to breastfeed” cards have been distributed to mothers to promote free lactation support and the right to breastfeed in public
• 30,000 “Tampa Bay Baby” Magazines distributed throughout Pinellas featuring important education on breastfeeding and infant safe sleep
• 3,000 Breastfeeding Welcome Here window clings have been distributed to local businesses, childcare centers and doctor’s offices
Meetings for Florida Healthy Babies are held quarterly in Pinellas County. If you are interested in attending or getting involved, please contact: HealthyBabies@flhealth.gov