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Task Force Releases Recommendations to Reduce Infant Deaths

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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force wants to help save children's lives, and the group has issued some recommendations they believe will accomplish that goal.

Fourteen-month-old Alex weighs 16 pounds 13 ounces now, but was just 1 pound 12 ounces when he was born three months early.

"I felt fine," Alex's mother says. "I had no indication that there was a problem until I went to the doctor that day," says Stephanie Vandergrift. "I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn't been seeing a doctor."

In 1997, North Carolina ranked 48th in the nation for infant death. And minority babies like Alex usually die at twice the rate of white babies.

"We need to do something about it. We need to learn more about it. We need to get messages out about it," says Tom Vitaglione of the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force.

The task force wants to get the word out first to the General Assembly; the group is sending a list of priorities to lawmakers.

Task force members want lawmakers to set aside money to:
  • help reduce infant mortality rates among minorities
  • fund a program to review infant deaths
  • contribute money to programs that help educate parents about potential pregnancy risksAlex's doctor agrees with the recommendations. "If we can get babies that are healthy in developing, then our work is much easier," says pediatrician Daymon Korb.
  • Alex's mother says she's happy she got the help she needed before it was too late. "Everybody doesn't always have as good an outcome as we did," she says.

    The task force is also recommending a stricter seat belt law; a helmet law for kids on bicycles; and special "Kids First" license plates to raise money for child abuse prevention programs.