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Vol. LXVI, No. 23
November 7, 2014
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NICHD 5K Event Seeks to Raise Awareness About Infant Mortality

Once again, Rodney Rivera of NICHD brought his kids to “roll” in the 5th annual Infant Mortality 5K Run/Walk/Roll event, held Oct. 16. After the runners and walkers set out on the campus-wide course, young Matthew, age 4, headed off on his bicycle. His younger sister, Emily, 2, sat in a wagon pulled by dad, who also carried 10-week old Kara in a baby pouch.

“It’s a family tradition,” said Rivera, chief of the Administrative Services Branch at NICHD, which sponsored the event. At the first one, held in 2010, Rivera carried Matthew, then 4 months old. “We love to get out.”

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about infant mortality, which is central to the mission of NICHD and a key indicator of the overall health of the nation, said Dr. Catherine Spong, NICHD deputy director.

Clad in sneakers and running gear, 175 people gathered in front of Bldg. 1 to listen to the speakers. In addition to Spong, they included Dr. Regina Smith James, director of the Office of Health Equity; Dr. Constantine Stratakis, institute scientific director; Dr. Tonse Raju, chief of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch; Dr. Shavon Artis, who oversees NICHD’s Safe to Sleep campaign; and Dr. Joyce Hunter, deputy director, NIMHD.

In October, the campaign marked its 20th anniversary. Artis told the crowd that the Safe to Sleep campaign, formerly Back to Sleep, has reduced the SIDS rate by 50 percent in the past two decades. Still, 3,400 babies die each year in the U.S. before the age of 1.

‘’We have made a difference,” she said. “But we want to make sure every baby thrives.” She urged the crowd to help spread the campaign’s most important messages:

  • Always place baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.

  • Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or play yard, covered by a fitted sheet.

  • Room share—keep baby’s sleep area in the same room where parents sleep, next to their bed.

  • Keep soft objects, toys, crib bumpers and loose bedding out of the baby’s sleep area.

  • If you breastfeed your baby, remember to place your baby back in his or her own sleep area next to where you sleep.

Although about 100 more people registered than participated, “we were quite pleased with the turnout,” said James. “It’s an opportunity to exercise and get important information about infant mortality.”

Lynnita Jacobs of the Office of Human Resources and Fatou Hughes of NCI both came out to get some exercise. “I like to walk when I have an opportunity during the day,” Hughes said.

“It’s a good cause,” said Jacobs.

Spirits were high at the 5th annual Infant Mortality 5K Run/Walk/Roll event, which got under way in front of Bldg. 1. Not all who registered showed up, but those who did were enthusiastic.
Spirits were high at the 5th annual Infant Mortality 5K Run/Walk/Roll event, which got under way in front of Bldg. 1. Not all who registered showed up, but those who did were enthusiastic.
NICHD’s Rodney Rivera and his children (from l) Matthew, Emily and Kara

Above, NICHD’s Rodney Rivera and his children (from l) Matthew, Emily and Kara

At right, an exuberant participant in the 5K takes a leap in front of Bldg. 1.

Photos: Bill Branson

An exuberant participant in the 5K takes a leap in front of Bldg. 1.

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