Archive for November, 2009

Support Prematurity Awareness Month

As we close out the month of November, we still have two weeks remaining to promote awareness around reducing prematurity births. Every day, we see how premature birth affect babies and families. With more than half a million babies born prematurely in the United States each year, the problem is bigger than ever.

The National Healthy Start Association is proud to partner with the March of Dimes® to give all babies a fighting chance. On November 17, thousands of people participated in Prematurity Awareness Day® activities in their communities. The month and day were recognized across America and covered by local and national media. March of Dimes also released its second annual Premature Birth Report Cards and America received a “D.” As a country, we are failing to give our babies the healthy start they deserve.  We obviously have so much more work to do if we are going to help save the lives of our most vulnerable population — our babies.

The cards score the nation and each individual state on its rate of premature birth and give recommendations for improvement. The report cards also highlight three contributing factors of premature birth: the rate of women of childbearing age who are uninsured; the rate of women of childbearing age who smoke; and the rate of late preterm birth. Recommendations for improvement are given in each of these areas, for example, federal and state support of smoking cessation as part of maternity care.  Another key March of Dimes recommendation is for hospitals and health care professionals to voluntarily assess c-sections and inductions that occur prior to 39 weeks gestation to ensure consistency with professional guidelines. Check out your state report cards and get involved.

To participate in Prematurity Awareness Month, or to view the Premature Birth Report Cards, visit marchofdimes.com/fightforpreemies.

 

Help us save our nation’s babies!

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NHSA Applauds Provisions in Health Bill To Support and Expand Community-Based Prevention Programs

The National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.  If signed into law, this legislation will dramatically increase funding available for community-based programs designed to reduce infant mortality and support disadvantaged pregnant women.

NHSA is pleased that the bill contains substantial new investments in community-based prevention programming.  The proposed Prevention and Wellness Trust will provide $15.4 billion in funding over the next five years specifically to support a range of prevention, wellness and public health activities.  The Community Prevention and Wellness Services Grants, funded at $1.6 billion annually, will be available to support existing community-based Healthy Start programs and services, such as outreach, home visitation, case management, health education, perinatal depression screening, interconceptional care and other effective approaches to ensure optimal birth outcomes. These types of community-based services will not only save lives but also save billions of dollars in health care costs.

Recognizing that our country ranks a dismal 30th in infant mortality rates among all industrialized nations, health reform offers a chance to provide additional resources to the existing network of 102 Healthy Start programs working to provide all women, regardless of race or socio-economic status, with the quality health care they deserve.

 

Premature Births Linked to Increase in U.S. Infant Mortality Rate

A new data brief was released this week by CDC, National Center for Health Statistics on how the U.S. is faring in premature births and infant mortality.  Sadly, the infant mortality rate has worsened since 2004. According to the report, premature births were the primary cause for the increase in infant mortality.

Here are the key findings from the report:

So what are the experts saying about why the United States may have more premature births?

  • Fertility treatments and other forms of assisted reproduction probably play a role because they often lead to twins, triplets or other multiple births. Those children tend to be delivered early.
  • The U.S. health care system doesn’t guarantees prenatal care to pregnant women, particularly the uninsured (Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes).
  • Maternal obesity and smoking have been linked to premature births and may also be a factor.
  • Health officials are also concerned that doctors increasingly are inducing labor or performing C-sections before the 37th week. Dr. Fleischman also indicated in a  statement to the NY Times that most infant deaths do not occur in babies just shy of 37 weeks gestation, but rather in those much younger,

The report also found that while the United States more commonly saw premature births, survival rates for infants at that gestational age were as good or better than most European countries.

Below are  links to a variety of articles on this report:

Premature Births Worsen US Infant Death Rate

Premature Births Are Fueling Higher Rates of Infant M ortality in U.S., Report Says

Click HERE for access to the PDF report