In February 2012, Tazewell County Health Department staff members initiated the Infant Mortality Task Force in response to 6 infant deaths within a 6 month period. Shortly after convening, statistics gathered from Illinois Strong Start showed areas in Tazewell County exceeding both the Illinois and national average benchmarks from low birth weight and premature infant births.

Over 100 participants have registered for the Working Together for Healthier Babies Conference to be held on Feb. 15 at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in East Peoria. This professional development conference will serve as a valuable tool for gathering information, networking with others, and sharing best practices in the promotion of maternal and infant health. Keynote speakers for this conference include:

Amy Christison, M.D. is the Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, a Pediatric Hospitalist at Methodist Medical Center, and Co-Director of the Healthy Living Program at Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Dr. Christison will speak at 8:30 a.m. in River C/D.

Bradley Thach, M.D. is currently a Professor of Pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Thach is also a Neonatologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National SIDS Alliance and as Board Member for the American Association of SIDS Prevention Physicians. Dr. Thach has researched apnea of prematurity, obstructive sleep apnea, infant feeding mechanisms, and sudden infant death syndrome. Dr. Thach will speak at noon in River C/D.

The Working Together for Healthier Babies Conference was made possible through a March of Dimes Community grant and contributions from additional sponsors. It is intended to enhance awareness of preterm birth prevention and safe sleep practices.