FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 7, 2019 CONTACT: Elizabeth Hart 615-741-3446 Elizabeth.Hart@tn.gov
TENNESSEE CELEBRATES CHILD HEALTH MONTH NASHVILLE, Tenn.
Governor Bill Lee has proclaimed October 2019 Child Health Month in Tennessee. Child Health Month is a time to celebrate and raise awareness around what Tennessee is doing to promote the health of our most important resource: Tennessee’s children.
“Our work has always included a focus on protecting, promoting and improving the wellbeing of Tennessee children and encouraging a lifelong pursuit of healthy living,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “TDH is active in many areas in supporting children’s health, but each of us has a role to play to help keep Tennessee children safe and thriving.”
Protecting Infant Health:
TDH data show there were 38 fewer infant deaths in the state in 2018 than in 2017. Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before his or her first birthday, and is an important marker for population health. Top causes of infant death in Tennessee include prematurity, birth defects and unsafe sleep. TDH has partnered with hospitals and community organizations to reduce the risks of infant deaths through promotion of safe sleep practices, preconception health, prenatal care and reduction of early elective deliveries.
TDH data also show a reduction in cases of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a condition in which a baby experiences withdrawal from a substance to which he or she was exposed during the mother’s pregnancy. Tennessee became the first state to require reporting of NAS when TDH made NAS a reportable condition in 2013. In 2018, Tennessee saw the first decline in NAS since surveillance began. NAS cases decreased from 1,096 in 2017 to 927 in 2018. Learn more in the TDH NAS Surveillance Annual Report.
Preventing Childhood Trauma:
TDH is increasing efforts to prevent and reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, traumatic events that occur before age 18. ACEs include all types of abuse and neglect, parental mental illness, substance use, divorce, incarceration and domestic violence. Studies show a significant relationship between the number of ACEs a person experiences and a variety of negative outcomes in adulthood including poor physical and mental health, substance abuse and risky behaviors.
Recognizing that ACEs are not fate, TDH is working with partners to develop programs to prevent and mitigate ACEs by promoting safe and supportive environments for families through home visiting, family planning, WIC and training to develop trauma-informed approaches to programs and policies. TDH recently rolled out its new care coordination program Community Health Access and Navigation in Tennessee, or CHANT available to families through all county health departments.