Celebrating Healthy Babies

Louisville Metro Healthy Start has added a new event for recognition of the families served by having its First Birthday Party on momandbabyApril 24, 2013. Healthy Start recognizes that often families do not remain in the program following the child’s first birthday.  For this reason Louisville Metro Healthy Start took the opportunity to provide health education message on early childhood development during a celebratory birthday party reception.  Graduation ceremonies are held at or near the child’s second birthday.

“I’m a first time mother…young so, it’s hard,” said 20-year-old Briana Stoner, Keimarieon’s mother, who is due to give birth to her second child May 19. ”In the last year, they helped me a whole lot with playpens and utensils that I didn’t have at home that I couldn’t purchase when I didn’t have money.”

LaDasha Downs, a mother of three, said the program helped her get Pampers for her 1-year-old baby, D’zarion Downs.

“It made a whole lot of difference, because some of them days I wouldn’t have had any Pampers, and Healthy Start provided me with Pampers,” said Downs, 30. “It helped me over until I was able to purchase them on my own.”

Celebrating healthy babies, Courier Journal

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Turning Up the Volume On Infant Mortality: Every Baby Matters!

Lisa Matthews is the MomsFirst Project Director and Secretary for the NHSA Board of Directors.

Despite the allocation of substantial resources and the hard work of many dedicated public health workers and medical clinicians engaged in a wide variety of private and public efforts, Ohio’s infant mortality numbers have remained essentially stagnant for more than a decade.  Based on the urgent need to address Ohio’s infant death challenge in a new way, with new resolve and new levels of state and community-wide cooperation, on November 28, 2012 the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality held its first Infant Mortality Summit, titled Turning Up the Volume On Infant Mortality: Every Baby Matters! 

The summit featured nationally recognized plenary speakers in the fields of health, medicine, and community organization:  Ted Wymyslo, M.D. Director, Ohio Department of Health; Arthur James, M.D., Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, The Ohio State University; Michael C. Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Administrator, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Mario Drummonds, M.S., L.C.S.W., M.B.A., CEO and Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Perinatal Project; and Magda Peck, Sc.D., Founding Dean and Professor, Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The many breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, displays and posters sandwiched between and around plenary sessions represented a broad menu of topics geared largely to what works to improve the health of our moms and babies.  Both of Ohio’s Healthy Start Project, Caring For Two and MomsFirst, were invited to share their expertise on Effective Care Coordination Strategies, Preconception Planning including the importance of reproductive life planning, and Perinatal Depression.

Ohio’s Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality is a growing group made up of a wide variety of individuals and organizations across Ohio united with a single purpose:  to prevent infant mortality and disparities.  The collaborative includes some of Ohio’s most knowledgeable, experienced, and respected professionals in a variety of disciplines impacting maternal and infant health and representing many influential organizations addressing infant mortality by combining proven, universal best practices and knowledge with unique community-level solutions.

This summit was supported by the March of Dimes Ohio Chapter, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ohio Section, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Ohio Better Birth Outcomes, Columbus Public Health Caring for Two Program, and the Ohio Department of Health.

The Volume on Infant Mortality was turned up really loud in Ohio with the hopes of breaking out of the public health and clinical boundaries to effect change in the social determinants of health that so profoundly affect infant mortality.  Another Summit was promised to take place in two years to reflect on the progress Ohio makes to ensure more of its babies grow up to be healthy, productive citizens.

Video recordings of all plenary presentations and audio recordings of 11 of the breakout sessions from the November 28, 2012 Infant Mortality Summit are now online.  Accompanying PowerPoint slides are included.  Access these presentations on the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality Website at http://bit.ly/imsummitpresentations

Prematurity Awareness and Men

Ken Scarborough is the volunteer coordinator for the NHSA Male Involvement Initiative and Male Involvement Coordinator at REACHUP, Inc.

November is recognized as Prematurity Awareness Month by the March of Dimes and the rest of the nation. This is a particularly important issue for Healthy Start and our work. Often times what he can do during this month gets lost in educating her.

According to an article written by Jasmine Jafferali in the Examiner dated November 1, 2012, there are 8 ways to reduce the risk for premature birth.  This article will identify 5 of the 8 ways and then provide ways that he can help and/or support:

Don’t Smoke. Her smoking and his smoking are detrimental during the pregnancy. When she finds it difficult to stop, he can either model stopping or support and encourage her as she attempts to stop.

Get your teeth checked early. Providing him this information on the importance of good dental care allows him to raise the question to her, schedule an appointment for her and join her on the visit.

Exercise. Her exercising can help to reduce preeclampsia and gestational diabetes; both have shown to increase the risk for pre-term labor.  This is often a natural behavior or a welcome activity for men.  He can partner with her to either continue to exercise throughout the pregnancy or to begin if she is currently not exercising.  This can also serve to build and growth their relationship.

Stay hydrated.  Water is best.  He can encourage her to drink lots of water during the pregnancy, while staying away from other drinks like those containing lots of sugar or alcohol.  As he seeks to meet her dietary urges, he can provide alternatives in cases where needed.  He too can pledge to stop himself.

Don’t slack off in the third trimester.  He can be there to encourage her to continue to eat healthy, drink plenty of water and eat protein rich and high in vitamin C foods.  His presence reassures a level of commitment into the future.

Supporting and modeling these five things can be instrumental in validating the importance of his role in also helping to reduce Prematurity.  If he is on board, we can really have an even more Thankful attitude during November because there will be less of a need to focus on Prematurity Awareness. Let’s Get His Attention and increase his Awareness also!

http://examiner.com/article/8-ways-to-reduce-your-risk-for-premature-birth.

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Barbara Lee Jackson is the Interim Executive Director at the National Healthy Start Association.

When I considered what I would write about in my blog today commemorating Infant Mortality Awareness Month, I thought I would start by clarifying my understanding of the word “awareness.”  I want to be sure I am expressing it correctly to inspire and demonstrate my own actions!

 Awareness is the “state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness”.  That’s a good start, but I’m going to focus on the word “aware” because that is really where we need to be. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary  (online), “aware” has Middle English origins, and expressed as iwar, or an older reference in Old English as gewær, from ge- (associative prefix) + wær wary — more at co-, wary.  Although an archaic form,  “wary” means being keenly “cautious, cunning, and watchful.”  That’s it! Being keenly “cunning” describes a person that is “knowledgeable or learned.”  So, if you are joining me in the Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign, my dear colleagues, are you “knowledgeable and learned” about infant mortality in the United States, what is it that you know and what can you do about it?  (Please note, I did not ask you if you WANT to be “knowledgeable or learned”; that’s another blog!)

 Well, here is a bit of information we should all know.  In a 2012 worldwide ranking by the CIA World Factbook — a report of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency — the U.S. infant mortality rate ranked 49th, ahead of Croatia at No. 50, while Monaco ranked No. 1, with an infant mortality rate of 1.80 per 1,000 live births. The United States infant mortality rate is 6.0 per 1000 live births, and if we are going to beat out Monaco and become No. 1, what is it that we need to do? 

First, we need to become aware and with many public health awareness campaigns, like breast cancer awareness for example, the information in the message is a deliberate effort to motivate individuals to take action. The kind of action we want you to take to address infant mortality in this country, involves understanding the issues, knowing what is going on in your community and/or state, and getting connected!  Joining other concerned individuals and/or organizations in partnership to find the solutions to the myriad of issues impacting pregnant women and their families that are at risk of having adverse birth outcomes is the kind of action needed to move the United States into the No. 1 spot!

Here are some ideas to take action!

  • Get connected and involved with a Healthy Start Project operating in your state!  If none exist in your area, check with your State Title V program, (Maternal and Child Health & Children with Special Health Care Needs) MCH/CSHCN.  It is the state agency funded by the federal government that support pregnant women, infants and children and ask them about the rates of infant morbidity and mortality in your state.  If the infant death rate is above1.8 per 1000 births in your community and/or state, ask the Title V officials what they are doing to work with pregnant women and their families to ensure healthy birth outcomes.
  • Take advantage of the resources provided by the National Healthy Start Association. We are ready to help!  Visit our website at www.nationalhealthystart.org and check out our Celebrate Day 366 Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign. You’ll find many resources on our  Raise Awareness page including an Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign Toolkit, Fact Sheet, web badge, and other promotional items.

Get in the know to take action in your community and/or state to impact our national standing, together we can make the United States No. 1!

Healthy Start & Text4baby: Honoring National Infant Mortality Awareness Month through a Shared Mission

Sarah Ingersoll is the Campaign Director for text4baby at the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

This September, the maternal and child health community comes together around National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Sadly, health disparities in infant mortality rates linger in this country despite our best efforts to support and educate moms. The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and the text4baby program share the National Healthy Start Association’s mission to overcome these disparities. During September, we celebrate the progress we are making together to combat poor birth outcomes and infant mortality by connecting more moms to high-quality health and safety information through text4baby.

To the many Healthy Start sites already sharing text4baby with your clients, we say a heartfelt “thank you.” If you aren’t yet familiar with text4baby, we hope you will take time this month to join us in providing this tool to your clients. Text4baby reinforces the health information you already provide to clients, extending and strengthening your relationship with moms and families.

According to Barbara Lee Jackson, Interim Executive Director of the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA), “Encouraging pregnant women to maintain a pro-active attitude in their care using health information is a key service component offered at all Healthy Start project sites and NHSA believes that text4baby offers a unique health education opportunity.  Using text messaging that is direct, fast, and consistent, we are reinforcing healthy behaviors for Healthy Start clients enrolled in the text4baby program. ”

During September, text4baby offers an additional benefit to new text4baby users through our Fall Sign-Up Contest. We’ve created a special code for Healthy Start moms, allowing NHSA and local sites to track your impact on enrolling moms in your community. Moms who sign up for the service between September 1st and September 30th and enter the participant code “HS” when prompted during registration will be entered to win a year´s supply of Johnson´s Baby products.

To learn more about text4baby’s benefits for your Healthy Start community and for details about the contest visit www.nationalhealthystart.org.

Kids Need Their Fathers: For Health, For Growth, For Life

Ryan Sanders is the Social Media Manager for the National Fatherhood Initiative.

I’ll never forget the beeps. It’s been five years since first hearing the beeps from inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where my first daughter stayed two weeks due to pre-term labor.

She weighed four pounds, and I was scared to hold her with the wires coming from all directions. But the NICU nurses assured my wife and I that we would do no harm by holding and talking to her. She needed to hear the same two voices she heard throughout pregnancy. She needed to feel our presence in that cold, steel medical room.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of three — live in homes without fathers. Kids need their fathers.

Kids Need Their fathers…For Health
The same “NICU baby” from above recently proclaimed from the back of the car, “I want coffee, like Daddy!” as I ordered my favorite coffee from the Starbucks drive-thru. As I ordered a short cup of water to mimic my coffee, I realized something big — that for good or ill, the choices I make affect my children. As dad goes, so go the children. With Father’s Day in our rearview mirrors, we must be vigilant about impacting our children positively with the choices we make as dads.

Studies show that men who take care of their health with a good diet, regular exercise, and preventive screenings serve as role models for their kids’ health habits and are more likely to be around for all those important moments like graduations, birthdays and weddings. But more than being around, fathers model behavior for their kids, for good or ill.

Kids Need Their Fathers…For Growth
New research reveals that the love of a father is one of the single greatest influences on the personality development of a child. Results from the journal of Personality and Social Psychology Review showed that kids rejected in childhood felt more anxious and insecure as well as hostile and aggressive as adults.

Professor Rohner who conducted the research says, “children who feel unloved tend to become anxious and insecure, and this can make them needy. Anger and resentment can lead to them closing themselves off emotionally in an attempt to protect themselves from further hurt.”

The same is true for all children regardless of race, culture, and gender – the feeling and effects of rejection are universal.

Professor Rohner adds that research shows the “same parts of the brain are activated when people feel rejected as when they suffer physical pain.” He continues, but ‘Unlike physical pain, however, people can psychologically relive the emotional pain of rejection over and over for years.’ His research shows a father’s input is particularly important for behavior and influences whether a child later abuses drugs or suffers mental health problems.

Kids Need Their Fathers…For Life
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that infant mortality rates are almost twice as much for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers.

Children whose fathers are stable and involved are better off on almost every cognitive, social and emotional measure developed by researchers.

How we start is usually a good indicator of how we finish. Giving kids a chance to start life in a healthy way matters. Involved fathers help infant mortality rates decrease and infant health increase. Being present and involved ensures children will grow and develop into mature, well-adjusted adults.

Dads matter–for good or ill. As dads go, so go the children. And as go children, so goes our society.

That is why National Fatherhood Initiative provides skill-building resources to help fathers increase their health literacy and get involved right from the start. Our Doctor Dad series of workshops help fathers learn about the well child, the sick child, the injured child, and the safe child. And our new Dad’s Pocket Guide contains practical tips on how dads can get involved with their newborns.

June is Men’s Health Month!

Every June Men’s Health Network (MHN), along with hundreds of partners across the country and the world, celebrates Men’s Health Month as a time to raise awareness of male health issues and encourage men and their families to seek preventive care.  The centerpiece of the month-long celebration is Men’s Health Week, which takes place during the week leading up to and including Father’s Day (June 11-17 of this year).  Men’s Health Week was created by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994.

This awareness period is an excellent time to recognize the importance of men’s health – not only for each individual man, but also for the impact that men’s health has on families and our society as a whole.  Men in the United States die an average of five years earlier than women, die at higher rates for 9 of the top 10 causes of death, and tend to live sicker as well.  The impact is significant for women: the U.S. Administration on Aging has reported that “more than half of women now living in poverty were not poor before the death of their husbands.”

With the recognition of Father’s Day, we are particularly reminded of the impact that men have on the lives of their children.  Men who take care of their health with a good diet, regular exercise, and preventive screenings and doctor visits serve as role models for their kids’ health habits and are more likely to be around for all those important moments like graduations, birthdays and weddings.  Being a father can also have its own health benefits when men commit to better habits so that they can live life more fully with their children.

During June and throughout the year, faith communities, government agencies, employers and local organizations are holding events such as free health screenings and presentations about important men’s health topics.  Cookouts, races and guys’ nights out are also planned to encourage men to take better care of themselves.  For more information on Men’s Health Month, including ideas for what you can do, please check out the Men’s Health Month website at http://www.menshealthmonth.org/.

Men’s Health Network is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys and their families where they live, work, play and pray with health prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation.  MHN participates in the annual Head Start conference and works in partnership with the NHSA to promote the involvement and health of fathers.